lunes, 5 de julio de 2010

Philip Glass - Low






Genere: Contemporary.

Style: Avant Garde, Chamber Music, Opera.

Similar artists: Alan Raph, Andrew Sterman, Jim Pugh.

Recording year: AMG, 1992.





Philip Glass is generally regarded as one of the most prominent composers associated with the minimalist school, the other major figures being Steve Reich, Terry Riley, and John Adams. His style is quite recognizable, owing to its seeming simplicity of repeated sounds, comprised of evolving patterns of rhythms, which are often quite complex, and rhythmic themes. In some of his early works, like Two Pages (1967), the whole of the piece evolves from a single unit or idea that expands as notes are added. In later works, expansion comes via the lengthening of note values or through other inventive processes. Many describe his music in the minimalist vein as mesmerizing; others hear it as numbingly repetitive and devoid of variety in its simplicity. The latter view of his style is itself simplistic and fails to take into account the many subtleties and complexities found in his methods. Glass' mature style embraces more than just minimalism and thus must be viewed being more eclectic and far less dogmatic.

Philip Glass has insisted that if his music involves a "crossover," it is on the part of the audience, not the composer. It might be more appropriate to say that Glass, particularly with the Low Symphony of 1992, is a composer that spans categories (and audiences) rather than occupying a niche between them. The Low Symphony is a curious treatment of themes from three songs, "Subterraneans," "Some Are," and "Warszawa," from Low, an album released by David Bowie and Brian Eno in 1977. It seems only appropriate that Glass would make the transition into mainstream pop culture via two other genre-defying artists.

Seminal figures in the progressive rock scene, Bowie and Eno created a sort of pop-experimental, proto-minimalist style that shared certain resonances with "art" music composers of the time. The similarities were not coincidental. In the late 1960s, Eno had been deeply impressed by a performance of Steve Reich's music. Later, when Philip Glass toured England in 1971, Eno and Bowie both attended a concert of his music at the Royal College of Art in London. It is possible, then, that Glass's Low Symphony contains ideas that Bowie/Eno borrowed from his music in the first place.

The Low Symphony might remind the reader of Glass' previous foray into pop music, Songs from Liquid Days of 1986. It exhibits a thoughtfulness and integrity sometimes missing in the earlier pop collaboration -- a collaboration that was initially conceived by record company executives who wanted to recoup some of the losses incurred from the recording of Glass' opera Satyagraha. The Low Symphony is a much more integrated and convincing juncture of styles and genres.









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