Glass Symphony No. 9

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COMPOSERS: Philip Glass
LABELS: Orange Mountain
ALBUM TITLE: Glass Symphony No. 9
WORKS: Symphony No. 9
PERFORMER: Bruckner Orchestra Linz/Dennis Russell Davies


Glass came to the symphony late. His first, the Low Symphony, was premiered in 1992 when Glass was 45. He has since continued to address this historically-loaded form and has now crashed the barrier of superstition around writing a Ninth Symphony: his Tenth was premiered this August in Aix-en-Provence.

The piece is full of Glass’s usual stylistic elements: undulating patterns, stabbing chords, laid-back melodies over edgy rhythms, sudden bustling interruptions from brass, woodwind and percussion; but overall there is a stately, lyrical feel. Glass says he thinks of it as being close to Mahler’s Ninth Symphony, insofar as it begins and ends very quietly. The performance is sympathetic and excellent, as you might expect given that Dennis Russell Davies commissioned eight of the ten symphonies and premiered most of them.


Barry Witherden