Glass: Spuren der Verirrten (The Lost) (CD & DVD)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Glass
LABELS: Orange Mountain
WORKS: Spuren der Verirrten (The Lost)
PERFORMER: Landestheater Linz-Upper Austrian State Theatre; Bruckner Orchester Linz/Dennis Russell Davies; dir. David Pountney (Linz, 2013)
CATALOGUE NO: CD: 0097; DVD: 5008  

Advertisement

The Lost characters are nameless, mainly identified by letters of the alphabet, but still retain a corporeal presence rather than merely being the ‘Spuren’ or traces of the original German title. Especially corporeal is the extremely physical, fierce, intricate choreography, realised by remarkable dancers who affect the action as well as questioning our perception of it. Technically impressive though this is, it often suggests hyper-accelerated parodies of mime artists.

The prologue is interrupted by The Spectator, declaring himself an audience-member while being escorted to a seat by ushers attempting to quieten him. You see bemusement on the faces of members of the real audience around him. Puzzlement would be stronger listening to the CD alone. It comes with the full libretto but, since the dance component is so prominent in the performance, the full effect is lost without the DVD.

The Lost presents a scattergun gazetteer of controversial and/or distressing aspects of the world today: pageants apparently referencing refugees, neo-Nazism, the global unbalancing of power, gender identity and sexuality, despair, assisted suicide, war and many other issues flash past, alongside characters from the Old Testament, Greek legend and Lewis Carroll. There is an over-arching sense of hopelessness and impending doom but finally everyone comes together in ingenuous expectation of a redemptive event.

On the DVD, Glass’s music is not centre-stage, and merges into a cohesive whole. Naturally, it comes into its own on CD. There are interesting harmonic, textural and structural developments in Glass’s musical language (let alone the unexpected use of alphorn and zithers) and an emotional depth sometimes obscured by virtuosity in earlier pieces. An ambitious, highly complex work, The Lost may not be a total triumph but is significantly better than some reviews of the premiere gave it credit for.

Advertisement

Barry Witherden