Philip Glass – Two Pages / Contrary Motion / Music in Fifths / Music in Similar Motion (1969-1971)


“The Philip Glass sound is easily caricatured in the minds of some listeners: a few minor-key notes are rattled off, and then repeated. By proposing to leave it at that, the composer’s critics reveal they haven’t listened to very much of his music. … By the following year, Glass had honed a distinct method of creating music via minimal means: He discovered that a small unit of melody could be spooled into longer lines, if you took those notes through a complicated process of addition and subtraction. The resulting music could prove spellbinding, if that’s the experience you wanted. But it also rewarded obsessively close listening. This ‘additive’ approach yielded a succession of important works, between 1968 and 1971. These compositions gave Glass’ minimalism a new, more strictly patterned sound, one that would define the rest of his purely minimalist period. Five of these items—’Two Pages,’ ‘Music in Fifths,’ ‘Music in Similar Motion,’ ‘Music in Contrary Motion,’ and ‘Music with Changing Parts’—were also key pieces in the repertoire of the composer-keyboardist’s pioneering own ensemble, which he formed in 1968. And they were some of the first Glass opuses issued on LP. Because Glass and his ensemble were still learning to master this new aesthetic, their iconic early recordings sometimes have a harried vibe, as they learned how to speak their own language.The fact that every rhythmic addition isn’t always faultlessly executed by the group can be charming, though this quality tends to come at the expense of Glass’ compositional ideas. (Glass later said he always thought ‘Changing Parts‘ was too ‘spacey’ for his own taste.) … As its title suggests, ‘Music in Fifths’ presents one keyboard part that is shadowed by another at the interval of a perfect-fifth (breaking a cardinal rule of music theory, in a bit of private joke to one of Glass’s old teachers). ‘Music in Contrary Motion’ is dominated by an inverted tonal relationship between another pair of keyboard lines. These two emphatically conceptual pieces receive devoted performances at the hands of Cluster’s pianists, though the comparatively limited nature of the works can’t be disguised. While provocative and energetic, there were only so many pieces for Glass to write in this vein. To find a new one, he’d need some fresh ideas. …”
Cluster Ensemble: Plays Philip Glass
NY Times: A Philip Glass Score Was Lost. 50 Years Later, Here It Is. (Audio)
Disogs: Music In Similar Motion / Music In Fifths (Video), Music With Changing Parts (Video)
FM: Two Pages / Contrary Motion / Music in Fifths / Music in Similar Motion (Audio)

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