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Philip Glass: Symphony No. 2, Symphony No. 3
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Glass, P.: Symphonies Nos. 2 and 3
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A strings-only piece, Symphony #3 (23:58) has four conventional movements which build in drama and texture. It contains many of Glass' signature sounds with mono-tonal melodies that spiral in larger and larger circles and chords that feel like they are beating down an urban thunderstorm of clandestine activity - jabbing, throbbing, chugging - as they do in the second movement. Yet the music reflects some of his most gentle work especially in the first and third movements. There is an unexpectedly beautiful violin solo in the middle of the third movement that runs initially counter to his quietly driving sequential style until they eventually meld together. The drama turns fiery in the last movement as it broadens into an exciting albeit measured gallop, at the same time not sacrificing the virtuosity of the expert playing by the Bournemouth string section.
Symphony #2 (43:14) is a larger scale piece that makes dramatic sense to be played after the third, as it is a more ambitious work. It slowly builds in intensity with very broad strokes that deepen and darken when it comes to the bass-lines and the repetitive use of contrasting woodwinds.Read more ›
Symphony number 2 is less interesting to me but for the price the symphony #3 tracks are great.
Very clear, great stereo separation of the orchestra and mic'ing of the instruments. Because of the great recording engineering, Marin Alsop's great conducting and control of the Glass machine is right there to be enjoyed; thus perfectly providing the subtleties of the textures Glass had in mind I bet. (The low bass drum comes to mind, for instance... which rings low over the ensemble wonderfully in this recording.)
I prefer this over the Dennis Russell Davies recording by leaps and bounds.
So I got curious and picked up this recording. The Naxos label has been good about making good recordings and selling them at low prices. This one was no exception. I loaded it into iTunes and listened to it on airline flights using noise cancelling headphones. The sound quality of the recording was quite good and the flight provided a window of time for uninterrupted listening. I liked the recording enough to listen to it again on the return trip.
While I have no other recordings or performances to compare to, Martin Alsop and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra make a compelling case for their performance.
For people who have not listened to Glass's music before, this not your great-great-great-great grandfather's symphony. Things unfold more slowly and subtly here than in Beethoven, Brahms, and Tchaikovsky symphonies, according to a different logic. At first it may seem little more than repeated arpeggio figures slowly varied. (One could make the same statement about Bach's C major Prelude for the Well-Tempered Clavier and be correct, too.)
For people who know and like Glass's music, this is a bargain worth scooping up.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Composer and performers have done much work with the progression of time. Formalistic atonality showing only hints of later promise, written to appease Manhattan insular... Read morePublished 14 months ago by t2
This is fantastic recording. I just recently discovered Philip Glass and I am so glad I did. I can not stop listening to it over and over. I keep hearing new underlying phrases. Read morePublished 18 months ago by SHD-Blue
a splendid listen, an incredible journey, a maximum work from the genius of minimalism . symphonies 2&3 will take you "there".Published 22 months ago by B. Cox
Glass is not Mozart. But if you like Mozart, you probably will like these symphonies of Glass. They have a lot of wind parts for symphony 2. And symphony 3 is unique. Read morePublished on October 14, 2009 by Classics Explorer
I thought the Philip Glass music I bought was very good Philip Glass. It wasn't as good as his Symp #8 but still very good. Glass gets better with age. Read morePublished on January 12, 2009 by Frank Gross III