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Glass: Akhnaten [Box set]

Philip Glass , Dennis Russell Davies , The Stuttgart State Opera Orchestra & Chorus Audio CD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)


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Audio CD, Box set, 1990 --  
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Product Details

  • Orchestra: The Stuttgart State Opera Orchestra & Chorus
  • Conductor: Dennis Russell Davies
  • Composer: Philip Glass
  • Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: CBS Masterworks
  • ASIN: B0000026GR
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #160,345 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Akhnaten: Act 1, Prelude: Refrain, Verse 1, Verse 2
2. Akhnaten: Act 1, Prelude: Verse 3
3. Akhnaten: Act 1, Scene 1: Funeral of Amenhotep III
4. Akhnaten: Act 1, Scene 2: The Coronation of Akhnaten
5. Akhnaten: Act 1, Scene 3: The Window of Appearances
6. Akhnaten: Act 2, Scene 1: The Temple
7. Akhnaten: Act 2, Scene 2: Akhnaten and Nefertiti
Disc: 2
1. Akhnaten: Act 2, Scene 3: The City. Dance (Beginning), Narration: The City
2. Akhnaten: Act 2, Scene 3: The City. Dance (Conclusion)
3. Akhnaten: Act 2, Scene 4: Hymn
4. Akhnaten: Act 3: Year 17 and the Present - Akhetaten, Scene 1: The Family
5. Akhnaten: Act 3: Year 17 and the Present - Akhetaten, Scene 2: Attack and Fall
6. Akhnaten: Act 3: Year 17 and the Present - Akhetaten, Scene 3: The Ruins
7. Akhnaten: Act 3: Year 17 and the Present - Akhetaten, Scene 4: Epilogue

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Modern Masterpiece February 18, 2000
Format:Audio CD
Akhnaten is a modern masterpiece in every way, and deserves a place in the standard repertory. Forgoing conventional narrative structure, this opera explores the controversial reign of Akhnaten through various tableau showing the Pharaoh overthrowing the religious establishment and founding a new order based on Atenism, and early form of monotheism.
Glass also explores both the controversial Oedipal and incestuous dimensions of the Pharaoh's rule, depicting his decay into a state of undifferentiated "familial" bliss using a vocalese-based musical language charged with pure emotion. Indeed, the whole opera uses music and langauge in amazing new ways, underscoring complex states of psychological being and various power relationships by contrasting languages and vocalese as well as intricate musical plotting. The fact that Akhnaten is scored for a countertenor is a stroke of genuis in itself, highlighting his almost alien nature as well as sexually controversial personality.
This opera hits at a primal level, and I cannot recommend this recording more highly. So many moments are charged with beauty, mystery, and power: the thundering funeral scene, the heartbreaking countertenor/soprano/contralto trio in the famous "Window of Appearances," the glorious Hymn to the Sun, the eerily beautiful "Family Scene," the climactic fall of Akhnaten.... simply wonderful.
I also recommend John Richardson's book about the opera, "Singing Archeology." Though somewhat overly academic in tone, it provides an invaluable key for understanding this incredible work.
I applaud both the Boston Lyric Opera and the Chicago Lyric Opera for bringing it back to American opera houses.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As expansive and charismatic as ancient Egypt itself February 3, 1999
Format:Audio CD
In Akhnaten, Philip Glass captures the essence of ancient Egyptian culture as perceived by Westerners. Much of Glass's work, of which this is a supreme example, conveys impressions to my mind without any conscious recollection of how they got there. The sheer weight of the music, implied by the brassy orchestration and methodical, relentless development, leads me to think of massive granite construction. In contrast, the other-worldly quality of the counter-tenor seems the perfect representation of the spiritually enlightened pharaoh who converts all of Egypt, though briefly, to monotheism. However, the internal, reclusive nature of this king, reflected in the hypnotic repetition typical of Glass, allows him to neglect the needs of the state to seek personal fulfillment through love and family. In the end, little is left to remind us of Akhnaten's existence as we're brought forward 3000 years to the present in the closing guidebook narration. It is the marriage of stone and spirit in this work that convinces me that Akhnaten lived, and that Egypt possessed a culture of immense proportions. And as the dream fades, I'm left with vivid impressions and a yearning to see what ancient Egypt might have been like in its cultural prime.
The discs are well-recorded, with the orchestra, large chorus, and soloists in excellent balance throughout. Of the three operas ("Einstein on the Beach" and "Satyagraha" are the predecessors), this one seems the most polished, and would probably be the best choice for those familiar with Glass from more accessible recordings, such as "Songs from Liquid Days" or "Itapu/The Canyon". In fact, the choral work of "Itapu" is reminiscent of "Akhnaten".
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best of the 'big' Glass operas March 29, 2000
Format:Audio CD
This work is generally considered to be part of a trilogy of 'operas', which also includes the Robert Wilson collaboration "Einstein on the Beach" and "Satyagraha". And of these, it and "Satyagraha" are the two which employ more conventional forces; "Einstein..." is more for Glass's ensemble of the mid/late-70s. So of these two 'conventional' Glass operas, I think this is perhaps the better. In here, Glass does a wonderful job of encompassing the possible musical scope and palette which larger forces have to offer. The spectacular 'Funeral of Amenhotep III' scene, for example, is a tour-de-force of what Glass was able to accomplish in these long-form works. Likewise, the subtilty of the vocal writing is something which must be experienced, most notably the skill with which Glass handles the writing for counter-tenor...not necessarily the easiest vocal part to write for! The sad part here, however, is that a mere audio recording does not really convey the sense of spectacle that these works have in a full performance, as the visual components of these operas are perhaps equal in importance with the musical content.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unlike any other opera, but no less great March 16, 2001
By altoman
Format:Audio CD
While I was in high school, we were required to read Mika Waltari's novel, "The Egyptian," in which Akhnaten was a significant figure. The portrayal of this strange Pharaoh piqued my curiosity, and I wanted to know more. What could he have done that led his successors to attempt to obliterate his memory?
In the 1980's, Torvill and Dean toured with a group of Russian skaters, and their big second act piece was set to extended excerpts from Glass's opera. The combination of the subject and the music and the performance was powerful. It also sent me to the store to purchase the whole opera.
Now, 15 years later, I still love to listen to it, and the music still exerts its power. There is no attempt to fill in the gaps in our knowledge of Akhnaten, no speculation. Even though this is more of a series of tableaux than a story, it is compelling.
The opera is constructed around Akhnaten's "Hymn to the Sun", which bears more than a passing resemblance to Psalm 104; Glass highlights this by juxtaposing the "Hymn" in English with the Psalm in Hebrew. I felt that the tessitura of this hymn was just a bit too high for Esswood to get out the words comfortably, but this central aria is a magnificent piece.
And the ending...well, it is sad and eerie and moving and unlike anything I've ever heard before--perfect for this opera.
There has been some criticism of the narration, and while I might have enjoyed it more had it been less emphatically articulated, it lets the listener know what is going on--since everything except the Hymn is in an ancient language, and the narration is a translation of the text to come. It works magnificently in the love duet between Akhnaten and Nefertiti, another piece that must be heard.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Opera, But...
I heard a portion of this opera during an evening soiree of food and "bring your best music of any type to beguile us, or to trick us. Read more
Published 3 days ago by T. E. Layman
5.0 out of 5 stars Glass at his most convincing in opera
I have had mixed reactions to many Glass operas, but I find Akhnaten to be one of his most fascinating, and successful, stage works. Read more
Published 19 months ago by LMENYC
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply sublime
I've owned this CD for more than 20 years and would guess it's had the most play time of anything I own. Sometimes once a month, sometimes looping it all day at work. Read more
Published 23 months ago by TRock
4.0 out of 5 stars IMPRESSIVE..............
Akhnaten, Glass's powerful third opera, is set in the time of Ancient Egypt. The title role is reserved, strong and statuesque; this is an opera of historical ghosts, and its life-... Read more
Published on September 13, 2007 by Tanis
5.0 out of 5 stars Hearing the History
Glass's superb opera "Akhnaten" is a dramatic musical story of the reign of the Egyptian pharaoh Akhnaten, who sharply broke with a long tradition of idol worship and an entrenched... Read more
Published on March 25, 2007 by David B. Edmonston
4.0 out of 5 stars Acoustic techno
The very idea of "minimalist" opera seems magically stillborn; fortunately, the orchestration (and no doubt the pageantry) of this piece are lush enough to render meaningless any... Read more
Published on June 12, 2006 by S. Gustafson
5.0 out of 5 stars And the Music Stands Alone
Philip Glass is a theater person whose wide popularity has been greatly enhanced by the visuals that accompany his music: the music score for the film 'The Hours', his triptych of... Read more
Published on April 1, 2006 by Grady Harp
5.0 out of 5 stars Soaring, captivating beauty
I have had the fortune of seeing this opera (Boston Conservatory of Music, 2004). The raw haunting nature of this music found me crying at the end of the performance when... Read more
Published on January 2, 2006 by Michael Spitz
1.0 out of 5 stars I Thought This Would Be Different.....
How can the Evengelist preach without a bible? How can Bush rule without the script? How can How can Philip Glass compose without the arpeggio? Read more
Published on October 13, 2005 by Gadfly
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply begs to be on DVD...
One of the greatest travesties of our time is that there is no performance of this Glass masterwork available on DVD. Read more
Published on July 6, 2005 by Steven Cain
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