Philip Glass

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>5/5

Every cliché that can be applied to a piece of pulse-pounding minimalism suits Philip Glass’s Music in Twelve Parts: seminal, athletic, epoch-making, trancelike and so on. This new four-disc live recording, issued on Glass’s own Orange Mountain Music label, lacks a little of the in-your-face, close-miked immediacy of the 1996 Nonesuch studio job, but it stands as a more important document because it gives a sense of just how brutally demanding and deeply affecting this three-and-a-half-hour work can be. The Rite of Spring of contemporary American composition, Music in Twelve Parts is as much about the scale of the event as the piece itself; this recording ought to be definitive, since it captures the mix of hard edge and plangency that makes Glass’s music so powerful.

The cast is largely the same as in ’96, including ensemble veterans like Michael Riesman, Andrew Sterman and Jon Gibson, many of whom have been with Glass for decades. (Singer Lisa Bielawa retains rookie status, having been with the band for only 16 years.) It shows: They are all comfortable and eloquent in Glass’s fierce, potentially exhausting textures, but they haven’t lost their rock & roll edge—and a live recording is the truest test. The unsung hero of the event is live-sound mixer Dan Dryden, as much a part of the group as any of the players. All told, this Herculean effort feels effortless.

Michael Riesman performs at (Le) Poisson Rouge Tue 23 and Wed 24.

Buy Music In Twelve Parts now at

Music in Twelve Parts (Orange Mountain Music)