Philip Glass Piano Music 

by David Sanson

 

Piano was Philip Glass favored instrument, and he was often his own interpretor. We won't be surprised that his vast – and, of course, unbalanced – catalog, the piano has such an important place. His piano works display more than five decade of creations, from 600 Lines and How Now (1967 and 1968), parts of his first opuses composed (at first for synthesizer) for his Philip Glass Ensemble, to the dyptic A Musical Portrait of Chuck Close (2005). Without forgetting all the Riesman and Barnes transcriptions from his movies musics (The Truman Show, from which Glass received a Grammy Award in 1998, or The Hours in 2002) or his opera: the Orphée Suite, his from is Orphée opera (1993), and his Trilogy Sonata is based on Einstein on the Beach (1976), Satyagraha (1980) and Akhnaten (1983).

 

Surrounding the Glass' classics, nowadays known as: Opening (1982), The Olympian – Lighting of the Torch (composed for the 84's Los Angeles Olympic Games ) or Metamorphosis (1988), it is all those pieces that Nicolas Horvath invites us to follow, from the strictly avant-gardists ones to the more lyrical and sentimental ones. His aim is to discover in another way the music that his own creator like to describe as “a spaceship engine”. A music, by the way, that never get rid of a certain form of redundancy: it rarely had been fluctuated from their fundamental principles, and its process of additional development based on the progression of a repeated figure following distinctive rhythmical and melodics sequences, that pieces like Music on ContraryMotion systematized. But a music that, lifted by a wonderful melodist talent, and impregnated of oriental philosophy, is the reflect the “listening metamorphosis” that Olivier Lussac explains: in the Metamorphosis 5 parts way, Philip Glass piano music is, he tells, like a “majestic equivalent of the mandala”, creating “a cosmic diagram scheme, the Earth, the Center and the Five, surrounded by the Four Elements; a spirit composed by an immensely long melody, a cyclone, a vortex with, in his center, a calm zone, prolonged by the intuitive and never-ending sutrâ's words”. Philip Glass does not play with the instant diluted in time, but evoke the cyclic instant, a assault, Rush, and an opening, of multiple instant and a eternal present.” Like 1+1, a piece with an undetermined length invites us, the listening of Philip Glass' music offers us a singular spatial-temporal experience.