Classical CD Reviews

Signal Live at Poisson Rouge = GLASS: Glassworks; Music in Similar Motion – Signal/ Michael Riesman, keyboards/ Brad Lubman, cond. – Orange Mt. Music

A landmark—Glassworks live for the first time.

Published on February 21, 2012

Signal Live at Poisson Rouge = GLASS: Glassworks; Music in Similar Motion – Signal/ Michael Riesman, keyboards/ Brad Lubman, cond. – Orange Mt. Music

Signal Live at Poisson Rouge = PHILIP GLASS: Glassworks; Music in Similar Motion – Signal/ Michael Riesman, keyboards/ Brad Lubman, conductor – Orange Mt. Music 0073, 64:35 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] *****:

In 2008, on the site where the legendary Village Gate nightclub once stood, which saw the likes of John Coltrane, Aretha Franklin, Duke Ellington, and Billie Holiday, le Poisson Rouge appeared with a mission statement to “revive…a symbiotic relationship between art and revelry” and especially to make classical music more relevant to the public at large.  The site has since seen rock bands, performers, composers, and DJs galore, and the venue is one where one needs to be in order to achieve a certain importance.

The idea to perform Glassworks, Philip Glass’s first major “hit” (released and still available on Columbia Records/Sony BMG) was to celebrate its first appearance 30 years ago. The work was created as a studio performance and has never been performed complete as a concert piece, though differing ensembles have played excisions over the years. Michael Riesman took up the task of creating a performance edition of the composition especially for the ensemble Signal (ten players, mostly doubling instruments) and the work was premiered in 2010. This performance is every bit as sassy and vivacious as the original Columbia with the added frisson of a live recording.

The much earlier (1969) Music in Similar Motion is a seminal piece in Glass’s eyes as it breaks away from the fairly static notions of minimalism at the time and achieves a “drama” by the addition, slowly, of different instruments. No specific instrumentation was provided at the time, so every performance will take on new degrees of color, but the real intensity of the work come from its feeling of progression and motion which adds to the dramatic character of the work.

The players here are superb, as is the sound. This is one Glass album that you really need, especially if Glassworks is absent your collection.

—Steven Ritter




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