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Philip GLASS (b. 1937)
Glassworlds – Volume 4: On Love
The Hours (2002) (arr. piano, Michael Riesman and Nico Muhly) [47:22]
Modern Love Waltz (1977) [3:36]
Notes on a Scandal (2006) [4:15]
Music in Fifths (1969) [5:59]
Nicolas Horvath (piano)
rec. March 2014, Temple Saint Marcel, Paris
Premiere recording: Notes on a Scandal
GRAND PIANO GP692 [61:10]

In some ways, this is a very easy review to write, as those immune to the sound-world of Philip Glass won’t have clicked on the link. Almost certainly I’m preaching to the converted, and I could simply conclude “yes, go and get this” and not say any more. However, our editor frowns upon brief reviews, so I need to find another two hundred and fifty words or so to avoid his wrath. Fortunately, that won’t be too difficult.

Surprisingly, the first three volumes in this series (GP690, GP691, GP692) have managed to bypass our reviewing team, myself included. I put my hand up for this because of the presence of the piano arrangement of The Hours, which I consider to be one of the finest film scores ever written. This recording includes all fourteen movements of the film-score. The only other recording to provide this is on Glass’s own Orange Mountain Music label, with his collaborator Michael Riesman playing (review). Valentina Lisitsa included eight of the movements in a well-received double CD of Glass piano pieces from last year (review). Horvath takes a much less emotional approach to the work than these two. He shaves two minutes from Lisitsa’s time in the final movement of The Hours, alone, and around ten minutes from Riesman overall. I feel this works well; while the film-score is highly emotional, which suits the lush orchestral scoring, the inbuilt repetitive nature suits a more restrained approach when played on the piano. This version doesn’t surmount the orchestral one, but is an interesting alternative which I will certainly listen to on a regular basis.

Of the three other pieces, Notes on a Scandal is from a film-score, and has much in common with music from The Hours, though less motoric. This single movement is an arrangement by Glass of two parts of the score. Modern Love Waltz was written to accompany a radio adaptation of Constance DeJong’s novel Modern Love, and then employed in the ballet score The Waltz Project. It is his only waltz, and is an intriguing mix of his style and the Viennese dance. Music in Fifths is something of an odd one out here. It is very much of his early highly repetitive style and seems to have little connection to the “love” theme of the CD.

Production values are very good: the Fazioli piano sounds quite beautiful, and the notes are informative, except in justifying the inclusion of the early piece. Perhaps it would have been better to have omitted the “On Love” sub-title. I will certainly be seeking out the earlier releases in this series.

David Barker

 

 



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