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Glass: Satyagraha Box set

17 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, October 25, 1990
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Editorial Reviews

Satyagraha remains, decades after its composition, one of Philip Glass's most traditional works. An emphasis on strings and on courtly, European-toned small choruses lends the opera a sense of musical familiarity rarely evidenced in the composer's extensive catalog. The libretto, though written in Sanskrit, is often mistakable, sonorously, for Italian. Satyagraha's relative independence from the internecine Indian raga-like patterns of the composer's other long-form work is particularly ironic given the opera's subject: Mahatma Ghandi, whose native country's ritual culture and spiritual heritage have long informed Glass's music. This is no dramatic biography; following a mythological gambit, the scenes focus on a handful of specific events in Ghandi's long life (the construction of a communal farm, his tumultuous arrival in Durban, the publication of the weekly broadside Indian Opinion). Pointedly, the opera is an international affair, each of its three acts referencing a major cultural figure: Leo Tolstoy, Rabindranath Tagore, and Martin Luther King Jr. The music is most interesting when Glass draws parallels between his patented, minimalist patterns and standard classical mode. --Marc Weidenbaum

Disc: 1
1. Satyagraha: Scene 1
2. Satyagraha: Scene 2
3. Satyagraha: Scene 3
Disc: 2
1. Stayagraha: Scene 1
2. Stayagraha: Scene 2
3. Stayagraha: Scene 3
Disc: 3
1. Satyagraha: Part 1
2. Satyagraha: Part 2
3. Satyagraha: Part 3

Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • 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 Records Masterworks
  • ASIN: B000002621
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #177,549 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Currie-Knight TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 23, 2002
Format: Audio CD
As part of a trilogy of 'portrait operas,' Glass tells us in the liner notes that each opera deliberately has a different flavor. "Einstein on the Beach" had an electronic, mathematical and tense feel. "Akhnaten," a floating yet grand orchestral quality and this, "Satyagraha," then, is somewhere in between with a very sparsely orchestrated, contemplative design. So sparse and light is the music here, that much of the opera utilizes one section of the orchestra at a time playing unison harmonies. Was this deliberate, or did Glass simply not feel comfortable writing for orchestra after writing for the Glass ensemble? Well, that's debateable but for my money, I think "Satyagraha's" terseness deliberate and spectacular.
So why do I say this opera is 'unjustly ignored'? Well, there are two types of Glass fans. First, the hard minimalists who like most of the Glass ensemble's electronic works, like Einstein and Music for Twelve Parts. Then, there are the newer Glass fans, who like his more traditional, orchestral works, like the Low Symphony and his film scores. The problem is that "Satyagraha" is the pivot between the two and has alienated both fans. It is very close to Glass's earlier style in it's insistent repititon with slight variations that the will bore the orchestral fans but the Glass ensemble fans will feel cheated by the warm orchestral touch. So this great opera has fallen through the cracks by defying categorization in the Glass repitoire.
To confess my bias, I am much more a fan of Glass's old style (Yes, I've listened to Einstein straight through!). This opera, though, has one thing that neither of the other two (or, god help us, his chamber opera) have is a certain purity.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Antony Sellers on June 21, 2000
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is undoubtedly the best of Philip Glass' trilogy of 'biography' operas. The recording - achieved through overdubbing with original cast and orchestra - makes for a sound which is both magnificent, metronomic and transfixing. It's what "Einstein on the Beach" promises, and "Aknahten" glances back over the shoulder towards. As these three works are probably the best of all Glass' work, and most honest to his original intentions, this comparison should say it all.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Christopher K. Koenigsberg VINE VOICE on March 11, 2005
Format: Audio CD
My own personal entirely subjective ranking, if there must be such an abominable thing, places "Einstein on the Beach" as Glass's #1 opera, "Akhnaten" as #2, and "Satyagraha" as #3.

(I've never gotten much into any of his many subsequent operas; I have tried here and there, but they do not appeal to me yet; perhaps they will begin to reach me after a few more years).

That being said, Satyagraha is very very good. The music is an expansion into orchestral space, of his earlier trademark idioms. The singing is wonderful. The libretto is wonderful too.

I think it marks a turning point or watershed, because it was his first step towards turning away from being totally experimental and "new"; it was his first excursion (totally different than "Einstein") into large-scale use of the traditional opera technology, e.g. orchestra and trained operatic singers.

I think he then perfected this use, of the traditional opera orchestra and operatic singers, in "Akhnaten"; but "Satyagraha" is still very very good as I said.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Santa Fe Listener HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 14, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Revivals of Staygraha have been rare over the past twenty years or so, but the Met has announced that it will bring the work to New York next season, transferring a magnificent 2007 production from the English National Opera. The reviews here at Amazon say misleading things one way and another, but in general the praise for this extremely minimalist work is deserved. On stage Satygraha is mesmerizing and profound, but it is also peculiar. First of all, nothing sung by the soloists or chorus pertains to Gandhi. The entire text comes from the Baghavad-Gita, and although the selections aren't extensive, Glass stretches them out, syllable by syllable, to great length. Chords are rudimentary, diatonic, and highyly repetitive. Melodies exist in a simple form and become transfixing by repetition more than intrinsic beauty (For example, Gandhi sings a simple scale passage at the end of Act 3 for ten minutes without alteration).

The events onstage are not directly related to the text but come from the earliest period in Gandhi's life when he was fighting against the so-called Black Acts that drastically restricted the personal freedom of Indians in South Africa. Only five or six events are indicated, and not all are momentous. In one instance, for example, an angry crowd was held at bay when the wife of the chief of police showed up while Gandhi was out for a walk and shielded him with her parasol. This symbolic show of sympahty dispersed the crowd. Presiding over each of the three acts is an inspiring spiritual figure: Tolstoy for the first act, the great Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore for the second, and Martin LUther King, Jr. for hte third. These figures neither sing nor speak.
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