Glass: The Passion of Ramakrishna
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The work has a prologue, then four parts of approximately nine minutes each, and an epilogue.
The subject matter - the life, teachings and death of a 19th-century Indian holy man, otherwise known as a mystic, Sri Ramakrishna, told largely in his own words - is inspiration for a Glassic- a Glass Classic!
The Ramakrishna speaks via the choir, giving his words and wisdom an extra-human quality. The words of his wife and devotees are given to solo singers, thus creating a fascinating dialogue between the terrestrial and celestial. With its crisp word-setting (usually one note per syllable) and short sentence phrases, the narrative and drama remain front and center. The orchestra provides drive and mood - the latter quickly changing or ruminative, as need be - and introduces spicy harmonies and jagged rhythms.
The ending epilogue section for soloists and chorus is simply amazingly beautiful. As many times as I've listened to this awesome section, which is easily one of the most beautiful things Glass has written, with a text that reads as follows below, I fantasize about giving all the great composers this text and asking them to set it, in a contest (without letting them know how anyone else set it first).Read more ›
The new work, that premiered in 2006 in Costa Mesa, is a 40 minutes score for chorus, full orchestra and five soloists. The sound reminds a bit on Symphony No. 5 (Choral), that was composed for the Salzburg Festical in 1999. Other than the 5th symphony the more recent piece hasn't been drawn from different sources of "wisdom traditions". The underlying message, however, is pretty much the same, since Ramkrishna taught that all religions lead to the same god.
'The Passion of Ramakrishna' is everything else but minimalist, at least when it comes to sound and emotional impact: The typical (repetitive) Glass ingredients take a backseat, when the opulent chorus retells the story of Ramakrishna, his life, illness and the transformation of death. Glass has succeeded beautifully in turning his inspiration from the Bengali classic, 'The Gospel of Ramakrishna' (by Swami Nikhilananda), into a deeply touching piece of music.
not enough quikyness to make works stand out. I can remember Symphony 3
very clearly having heard it six months ago, but I cannot remember this piece
from hearing it twice yesterday. The music is fine and listenable but it does not
excite the imagination. Is Glass rushing through some of his music just to bulk up his
catalogue? Glass is attempting to render spiritual ideas with classical music in this
piece and it does no more than partially satisfy the hearing experience. I probably won't
play this as often as symphony 5.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Sri Ramakhrishna is a famous Hindu character of the 19th century. India at the time had been under the domination of the Mughal empire and then the British empire. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
Not for me. I've decided I'm just not an opera fan, so this shouldn't speak for the quality of the album if you do. Love Philip Glass, though.Published 19 months ago by Amazon Customer