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Philip GLASS (b. 1937)
Film Scores Volume III: Jenipapo (1995)
Jenipapo [4:30]
Coleman's Theme [1:51]
Political Connections [1:05]
Father Stephen Lewis [1:20]
Disappearance [1:24]
Land-Grab [0:59]
Remaining Silent Now [1:55]
Connected Politically [0:32]
Coleman's Dilemma [3:39]
The Reclamation Bill [1:13]
Journalism [0:32]
Bahia [0:37]
Coleman's Consequences [1:32]
The Interview [2:56]
Where We Go [0:27]
Jenipapo Finale [2:03]
Ignorant Sky (featuring Suzanne Vega) [3:11]

Michael Riesman (keyboards, piano, conductor)
rec. Looking Glass Studios, New York, New York, 1995. DDD


Experience Classicsonline

Hollywood loves typecasting. In the film world composers are selected because of what they are known for. Filmmakers aren't likely to ask them to step outside the sound that the composer is most identified with or to write about themes that the composer isn't familiar with. Philip Glass is also an activist who identifies with specific goals and ideas that he wants his music to be associated with. Throughout his career the theme of social transformation has figured prominently. Koyaanisqatsi, Satyagraha and Appomattox all spring to mind as examples.

Glass also has a longstanding interest in the culture and music of Brazil. He has been to Rio de Janeiro often throughout his lifetime and has written several works for Brazilian dance groups and orchestras. These include 12 Pieces for Ballet, Itaipu, and Days and Nights in Rocinha. 

So it seems that writing a score for a film about an American expatriate journalist living in Brazil that quickly becomes a political thriller about the tumult of political upheaval is an ideal match. If nothing else, it fits the profile. 

The same can almost be said of the music. It definitely sounds like prototypical Philip Glass, though more Glass in reduction. He borrows heavily from the sound palette of his own early 1980s works, but with the longest piece being just 4:30 this is not the Glass of old. 

Land Grab harks back to the music of Akhenaten, though without the vocals. The rest of the pieces sound as if they are outtakes from Glassworks. The synthesized sounds along with the acoustic orchestral instruments where they are featured is very nicely executed, and very familiar to the longstanding Glass fan. 

Also, much like those early works, there is little in the way of hummable melody. The music is a wash of sound for the listener to bathe in, not a song without words. 

For the casual Glass fan, or the Glass neophyte, this is an ideal disc. There is no demand put upon the listener for long musical structure. The development time for each piece is very short. As soon as an idea is established the music moves on, much like a collection of orchestral works from the late Romantic era. With the recurring melodies, where there are true melodies, the disc feels much like a minimalist interpretation of Pictures at an Exhibition. With the entire disc clocking in at just under 30 minutes, and with the suite consisting of sixteen orchestral pieces, excluding the song with Suzanne Vega, the length is even comparable. 

The final piece, Ignorant Sky, which features Suzanne Vega, seems to stand apart from the rest of the score. It is performed using acoustic piano, electric synthesizers, fretless electric bass, and with both ethnic percussion and a drum set. So the instrumentation is even different enough noticeably to stand apart where there is no singing. Vega's performance is quite good and appropriate to the world music and pop music genres on which this piece draws, though with obvious sounds derived from Glass's works. 

So who would enjoy this disc: the completist who loves Glass, the casual Philip Glass fan, and fans of modern film scores. The person who really loves Glass in his Einstein on the Beach era will have little use for it. Similarly the fans of Glass's operas may find this to be a little too much on the light side. There is a place for this recording though, and it does a fine job of being what it is. 

By the way, the film was directed by Monique Gardenberg and starred Henry Czerny.

Patrick Gary 




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