Album Remarks & Appraisals:
In 1998, percussionist Jonathan Haas commissioned Philip Glass to compose a concerto. The Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpani has turned out to be one of Glass's most frequently performed concert works. Haas worked closely with Josh Quillen and NYU Steel to create the arrangements and recording of Philip Glass' piano Etudes on steel drums. The result is a fantastic re-imagining of Glass' music, giving new light to the color and structure of this very popular repertoire.
Audio Mixers: Josh Quillen; Paul Geluso; Don Christensen; Jonathan Haas; Héctor Castillo.
Liner Note Authors: Josh Quillen; Jonathan Haas.
Recording information: NYU Steinhardt's James L. Dolan Studio (05/17/2010-05/19/2010).
Directors: Josh Quillen; Jonathan Haas.
Photographers: Steven Silberstein; Jonathan Haas.
Because of the clean, ringing sonorities Philip Glass uses in so much of his work, his music seems like it would be a natural for the bright resonance of steel drum ensembles. Josh Quillen has arranged Glass' 1994 piano etudes 1-10 for steel drums and the New York University ensemble NYU Steel delivers excellent performance of them on this 2011 Orange Mountain release. The bell-like sustaining power of the drums gives the music a pleasing shimmer that's different from the more mellow version for piano. The pans don't offer the same level of dynamic variety as a piano, and it is more difficult for them to create a pianistic legato, but those caveats shouldn't bother listeners willing to accept the kind of changes that are inevitable when music is transferred from one medium to another. NYU Steel, under Quillen's direction plays with great precision and spirit. The energy, too, that's generated by an ensemble of this size made up of instruments that require such kinetic dynamism from the players adds a terrifically charged element to the listening experience. Steel pans are notoriously difficult to record with clarity and balance, but the sound is clean and crisp without sacrificing resonance. Highly recommended for fans of Philip Glass and/or steel drums. ~ Stephen Eddins
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