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Songs from the Trilogy

Album Summary

>Glass, Philip : MEDLEY
>Glass, Philip : Akhnaten
>Glass, Philip : Einstein on the Beach
Performers Conductors Ensembles Composer
Notes & Reviews:

Personnel: Philip Glass (organ); Iris Hiskey, Claudia Cummings, Sheryl Woods (soprano); Paul Esswood, Douglas Perry (tenor); Paul Zukofsky (violin); Richard Landry (bass clarinet); Jon Gibson (soprano saxophone); George Andoniadis (organ).

Recording information: Big Apple Studios, New York, NY (1978-1987); Karlshöne Church, Ludwigsburg, Germany (1978-1987); RCA Recording Studios, Studio A, New York, NY (1978-1987); Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg, Germany (1978-1987).

Philip Glass' 1987 album Songs from the Trilogy is made up of brief selections from his three portrait operas, Einstein on the Beach (1976), Satyagraha (1980), and Akhnaten (1983). It gives a good idea of what the music from the operas sounds like, but at the same time it misrepresents what the music is actually about. In developing his "music with repetitive structures" (the description he preferred over "minimalism"), Glass was creating a new kind of experience, one in which the traditional temporal expectations of a piece of music are overturned, where changes happen incrementally and very slowly over a long (sometimes a very long) span of time. A common response to his work, particularly his earlier pieces, including Einstein, was boredom followed by a visceral jolt when the listener was suddenly hit by the power of the gradually evolving changes. The snippets on this album convey the sound of Glass' music, but their brevity rules out the possibility of their having the impact the composer intended. "Trial-Prison" from Einstein on the Beach, for instance, is cut from 18 minutes to three, and most of the excerpts from Satyagraha and Akhnaten suffer a same fate, shortened to a third to a half of their original length. Still, the album is not without its merits. The gripping performances are by the Philip Glass Ensemble in Einstein, and in the case of Satyagraha and Akhnaten, taken from the original cast albums. Tenor Douglas Perry is a standout in the role of Gandhi in Satyagraha; his tone is sweet and fresh and his delivery achingly poignant. Soprano Iris Hiskey's crystalline, wordless vocalise in "Bed" from Einstein is eerily mesmerizing. In all the operas, Sony's sound is exemplary. The album may not offer much of a real sense of what the operas are like, but if it whets listeners' appetites to seek out the complete recordings it will have served a worthy purpose. ~ Stephen Eddins



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Works Details

>Glass, Philip : MEDLEY :: Protest
  • Performers: Philip Glass (Piano); Douglas Perry (Viola)
  • Conductor: Christopher Keene
  • Ensemble: New York City Opera Chorus
  • Notes: Composition written: 1980.
  • Running Time: 4 min. 19 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 1980
  • Studio/Live: Studio

>Glass, Philip : MEDLEY :: Evening Song
  • Performers: Philip Glass (Piano); Douglas Perry (Viola)
  • Conductor: Christopher Keene
  • Ensemble: New York City Opera Orchestra
  • Notes: Composition written: 1980.
  • Running Time: 4 min. 7 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 1980
  • Studio/Live: Studio

>Glass, Philip : Akhnaten :: Hymn to the Sun
  • Performers: Paul Esswood (Countertenor); Philip Glass (Piano)
  • Conductor: Dennis Davies
  • Ensemble: Stuttgart State Opera Chorus
  • Notes: This selection was recorded at Karlshöhe Church and Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg, Germany.
  • Running Time: 6 min. 16 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 1983
  • Studio/Live: Studio

>Glass, Philip : Einstein on the Beach :: Trial/Prison
  • Performers: Philip Glass (Piano); Jon Gibson; Richard Landry (Flute)
  • Conductor: Michael Riesman
  • Ensemble: Philip Glass Ensemble
  • Running Time: 2 min. 47 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 1976
  • Studio/Live: Studio

>Glass, Philip : Akhnaten :: Akhnaten & Nefertiti
  • Performers: Paul Esswood (Countertenor); Milagro Vargas (Alto); Philip Glass (Piano)
  • Conductor: Dennis Davies
  • Ensemble: Stuttgart State Opera Chorus
  • Notes: This selection was recorded at Karlshöhe Church and Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg, Germany.
  • Running Time: 4 min. 15 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 1983
  • Studio/Live: Studio

>Glass, Philip : MEDLEY :: Kuru Field of Justice
  • Performers: Robert McFarland (Baritone); Philip Glass (Piano); Douglas Perry (Viola)
  • Conductor: Christopher Keene
  • Ensemble: New York City Opera Orchestra
  • Notes: Composition written: 1980.
  • Running Time: 6 min. 4 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 1980
  • Studio/Live: Studio

>Glass, Philip : Einstein on the Beach :: Knee 01
  • Performers: Sheryl Sutton (Spoken Vocals); Lucinda Childs (Spoken Vocals); Philip Glass (Organ); Philip Glass (Piano); Philip Glass (Electric Organ)
  • Conductor: Michael Riesman
  • Ensemble: Philip Glass Ensemble
  • Running Time: 3 min. 32 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 1976
  • Studio/Live: Studio

>Glass, Philip : MEDLEY :: Tolstoy Farm
  • Performers: Scott Reeve (Bass); Robert McFarland (Baritone); Philip Glass (Piano); Claudia Cummings (Soprano); Rhonda Liss (Alto); Douglas Perry (Viola); Sheryl Woods (Soprano)
  • Conductor: Christopher Keene
  • Ensemble: New York City Opera Orchestra
  • Notes: Composition written: 1980.
  • Running Time: 4 min. 54 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 1980
  • Language: Latin
  • Studio/Live: Studio

>Glass, Philip : Akhnaten :: Window of Appearances
  • Performers: Paul Esswood (Countertenor); Milagro Vargas (Alto); Philip Glass (Piano)
  • Conductor: Dennis Davies
  • Ensemble: Stuttgart State Opera Chorus
  • Notes: This selection was recorded at Karlshöhe Church and Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg, Germany.
  • Running Time: 4 min. 22 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 1983
  • Studio/Live: Studio

>Glass, Philip : Einstein on the Beach :: Bed
  • Performers: Iris Hiskey (Soprano); George Andoniadis (Organ); Philip Glass (Piano)
  • Conductor: Michael Riesman
  • Ensemble: Philip Glass Ensemble
  • Running Time: 3 min. 40 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 1976
  • Studio/Live: Studio

>Glass, Philip : Akhnaten :: Epilogue
  • Performers: Paul Esswood (Countertenor); Milagro Vargas (Alto); Philip Glass (Piano)
  • Conductor: Dennis Davies
  • Ensemble: Stuttgart State Orchestra
  • Notes: This selection was recorded at Karlshöhe Church and Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg, Germany.
  • Running Time: 4 min. 18 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 1983
  • Studio/Live: Studio

>Glass, Philip : Einstein on the Beach :: Knee 05
  • Performers: Sheryl Sutton (Spoken Vocals); Lucinda Childs (Spoken Vocals); Paul Zukofsky (Violin); Philip Glass (Piano); Philip Glass (Organ); Philip Glass (Electric Organ); Samuel Johnson
  • Conductor: Michael Riesman
  • Ensemble: Philip Glass Ensemble
  • Running Time: 5 min. 10 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 1976
  • Studio/Live: Studio