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Glass - Early Voice / Mabou Mines, Western Wind, et al

Album Summary

>Glass, Philip : Music for Voices, incidental music
>Glass, Philip : Another Look at Harmony, Part IV, for chorus & electric organ
Performers Conductor Ensembles Composer
Notes & Reviews:

Personnel: Mary Ann Hart (mezzo soprano); Lawrence Bennet (tenor); William Zukof (countertenor); William Lyon Lee (tenor saxophone); Michael Riesman (organ).

Recording information: Paula Cooper Gallery (1972-1989).

Philip Glass is an acquired taste. Particularly in some of his earliest works, Glass stripped his compositions down to such a minimal level that it's hard for casual listeners to appreciate. One of the pieces on this album, for instance, Music for Voices, is definitely not for the squeamish. Composed in 1970 and recorded live at the Paula Cooper Gallery in 1972 (accounting for the somewhat hissy sound) Music for Voices is exactly that: eight a cappella voices chanting solfa in repeated patterns, slowly varying the dynamics and rhythms. In the right frame of mind, this hypnotic humming can be affecting and mesmerizing. It can also be incredibly annoying. Dedicated fans of the composer's earliest works will be fascinated by this raw piece. The second composition on the CD, however, holds a broader appeal while still retaining a "stripped-down" approach. Another Look at Harmony, Pt. 4 features the much more familiar setting of chorus against electric organ (played, as usual, by longtime Glass collaborator Michael Riesman), recorded in 1989 with a resultant cleaner and more immediate sound. Similar in feel to Glass' early operas and parts of his landmark score for the film Koyaanisqatsi, Another Look at Harmony, Pt. 4 finds Glass moving beyond his Music in Twelve Parts to further explore his approach to harmony. The result is a transcendent piece worthy of dedicated listening time. This second piece makes the CD worth investigating for Glass fans. ~ Neil Shurley


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Works Details

>Glass, Philip : Music for Voices, incidental music
  • Performers: Philip Glass (Piano); Mabou Mines
  • Ensemble: Mabou Mines
  • Running Time: 13 min. 33 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1970
  • Studio/Live: Live

>Glass, Philip : Another Look at Harmony, Part IV, for chorus & electric organ
  • Performers: Philip Glass (Piano); Michael Riesman (Organ); Western Wind [Vocal Ens.]
  • Conductor: Michael Riesman
  • Ensemble: Western Wind (Vocal Ens.)
  • Running Time: 50 min. 12 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1975
  • Studio/Live: Studio