Listening, 2/26/09

I do apologize for not blogging regularly these days. Perhaps I need to blog about that.

Just joking. I can’t even get my thoughts together for that kind of metablogging. I’d like to think that my brain is in such a creative turmoil that I’m afraid to commit any of my ideas to writing. Sure, let’s just go with that.

So my most recent CD in the ongoing Listening Project is Symphony No. 3, Philip Glass. The CD contains the aforesaid symphony, plus Interlude No. 1 from The CIVIL warS; Mechanical Ballet from The Voyage; Interlude No. 2 from The CIVIL warS; and The Light.

At first, I was not overly engaged by the music, but the more I listened to it, the more I understood each piece and even began hitting the back button on the car stereo to hear a track again, always a sure sign of my listening investment.

The third movement of the symphony in particular caught my fancy. It’s the slow movement of the work, beginning with a Glassian pulse in the low strings. (The entire work is for strings only.) Eventually, after the chaconne-like harmonic progression has been established, a solo violin enters, sweetly singing in a higher register, with a syncopated upward leap in its melody. Then, without our even noticing it, a swirling triplet figure detaches itself from the underpinnings and becomes a second violin melody in counterpoint to the first one, and then another, and then another, until we have multiple melodies spinning up and down their scales and trills and melismas. All the while, the throbbing accompaniment ebbs and flows, and we keep the upper melody as signposts on the way. It is quite lovely.

I also quite liked The Light, a symphonic poem which is the usual Glass thing: counterpoint, syncopation, stirring outbursts and climaxes. Quite a happy piece by his standards.

So this one’s a keeper.

At the moment my two Listening companions are Discreet Music, Brian Eno, and Skys, by one Michael Danna. I’m about done with those, I should have posted this piece days ago. Because of my impromptu Wikipediaing of Glass, I have dug his Symphony No. 8 out of the pile and will work on that next. I also retrieved the Symphony No. 2 from the shelf and will give it a whirl.

The problem with this is that then I start hearing this kind of music in my own head. I’m not sure that’s where I want to go with my music.

2 thoughts on “Listening, 2/26/09

  1. Here’s a Glass question. There’s this little motif in Low, I think in the first movement. It’s a minor seventh jump down, modulated by whole steps and such. It’s very similar to something in the Enigma Variations and in a little Grieg piece I heard on the radio the other day called The Sigh. A conscious quote?

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