Glass: The Voyage

LABELS: Kultur
WORKS: The Voyage
PERFORMER: Soloists and chorus of the Landestheater Linz; Bruckner Orchester Linz/Dennis Russell Davies
CATALOGUE NO: omm 0017
Like it or not, the operatic recordings of Philip Glass tend to fall into two categories, which are the so-called trilogy of Einstein on the Beach, Akhnaten and Satyagraha and, essentially, everything else. While this perhaps detracts unfairly from his stage works based on the writings of Cocteau and most certainly indicates a few regrettable gaps in the catalogue, such as the operas based on the novels of Doris Lessing, it’s something both he and we are stuck with, seemingly on the basis of the works’ various reputations. The Voyage, in any event, differs from many of its predecessors in that this three-Act work is based on a structure devised by Glass himself. The theme, which occurs frequently in his compositions, is that of discovery, with the opera’s various protagonists ranging from Christopher Columbus to space travelers. All the Glass musical trademarks are present, with tight rhythms and garrulous arrangements supporting yearning melodies; but while the commendable performance has been expertly captured on this set of two CDs, the work as a whole doesn’t really add any substantial new ideas to the composer’s approach. However, the individual narrative elements are less cryptic than those of, say, Satyagraha (which featured German beer monsters singing in Sanskrit) and while their non-linearity doesn’t add up to a conventional plot they do at least provide landmarks. Roger Thomas