PHILIP GLASS (b.1937): Symphony No. 11.
Catalogue Number: 12U008
Label: Orange Mountain Music
Reference: OMM 0133
Description: The 11th Symphony is Glass' 80th birthday present to himself, and a tribute to long-time champion, Dennis Russell Davies. If you are a fan of Glass, then this big, bold, sumptuously orchestrated piece is self-recommending; this is Glass being Glass, writ large, doing all the things we've enjoyed for decades, with no experimentation but not sounding exactly like anything we've heard previously. Like the previous two symphonies, the work puts a new spin on familiar territory, and much of what we said about the 9th applies just as well to this one (06N084). The first movement feels the most familiar, based on the propulsive, pulsing arpeggii and oscillating minor thirds that were the composer's trademark in the Philip Glass Ensemble works of the 1980s. The middle movement has distinct echoes of Glass' 1980s operatic, film and dance output - Satyagraha, Akhnaten, Maelstrom, Koyaanisqatsi - and here the composer starts playing with syncopated accents and changes of meter, making this movement one of his most appealing creations. The finale is pure celebration, heavy on percussion, with a brisk 'marching band' introduction; the bulk of the movement is an increasingly wild dance with rapid changes of time signature and syncopation increasing as it progresses, lending a lively unpredictability to the proceedings. The whole thing sounds like an appeal to Glass' fans' sense of nostalgia, but dished up bigger, more colorful and richer than ever before,tremendously exciting, and with an ending transparently calculated to bring the house down in live performance. Bruckner Orchester Linz; Dennis Russell Davies.