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Philip GLASS (b. 1937)
Samurai Marathon (Film Score)
The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra/Richard Hein
rec. Smecky Music Studio, Prague, no date

This is not an exciting new score to put alongside such gems as Koyaanisqatsi, but a compilation of excerpts from other works. The music of Glass, like that of Michael Nyman, readily lends itself to use in the cinema or to accompany documentaries. Motoric rhythms, memorable tunes, relatively straightforward themes and a sense of drama are invaluable to film.

A degree of editing has been required and Glass worked with the director Bernard Rose on the score.  Rather than using previous recordings, works were played afresh by Richard Hein and The City of Prague Philharmonic. The orchestra has been used many times by film composers and to recreate film scores for various labels, and as always, they produce a beautiful sound of great flexibility. The recording quality is good.   But, for all that, we are left with 16 bleeding chunks, adding up to half-an-hour’s music. The longest piece is a four-minute clip from Akhnaten to mark a funeral. Three tracks last less than a minute, seven less than two minutes, including a little piece from the third movement of Symphony No.3, and another from the first movement of Symphony No 2 (but precisely four minutes from the second movement of the Violin Concerto).  

It is difficult to determine the market – it is not yet a souvenir of the film as it will not be released until 2020. For those who love Glass, a set of little bits will hardly satisfy, and at half an hour, the whole is thin value for a full-price disc. No notes are provided; I shall not repeat my complaints about OMM’s weak documentation.

It is difficult to say anything positive about this, and in doing so, I haven’t quite got to MWI’s 300 word limit – I crave the editor’s indulgence.

Michael Wilkinson

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