COMPOSERS: Philip Glass
ALBUM TITLE: Glass
WORKS: Etudes – selection; Koyaanisqatsi; Suite for harp; Lift Off; plus works by Dessner, Muhly, Arnalds, Frahm and Ludwig-Leone
PERFORMER: Lavinia Meijer (harp)
CATALOGUE NO: 88985351432
Philip Glass achieves octogenarian status this year, and this CD couplet marks the start of a trickle of commemorative recordings. Glass, one of the founding fathers of minimalism – a style often dismissed by purists and miscommunicated by critics – is perhaps best known for his keyboard and orchestral works. Dutch harpist Lavinia Meijer has been arranging these for her instrument for several years (she recorded Metamorphosis/The Hours for Channel Classics in 2012). In this new compilation, Meijer tackles a selection of the piano Etudes; creative and complex pieces that Glass wrote over two decades. Meijer’s translation is deeply impressive: the harp’s timbre makes it a natural vehicle for this music, but there are practicalities to overcome – such as the chosen range (eg No. 20) and repetitive use of motifs (eg No. 1).
In the second disc, Meijer explores works by five composers inspired by Glass. Nico Muhly is often linked with his American compatriot (the former spent time working as a typesetter in the latter’s studio), and two of his early works are featured here: Quiet Music and A Hudson Cycle, both exquisitely performed by Meijer. A variegated collection (the fleeting Erla’s Waltz by Olafur Arnalds brings lightness; Ellis Ludwig-Leone’s percussive Night Loops evokes eerie longing) is bookended by two different arrangements of Koyaanisqatsi; the first (by Meijer) is closer to Glass’s composition. The second, Lift Off, written by Meijer and Arthur Antoine, uses electronic sampling techniques reminiscent of Steve Reich’s oeuvre to create an original reimagining of Glass’s 1982 soundscape.