Seattle Northwest Chamber Orchestra
Vol I, Vol III
Philip Glass has always been canny about finding venues for his music, and this has helped him realize large-scale projects like his operas of the 1970s and 1980s. In the years since then, even if he has not made something personal about his minimalist language in the way that his contemporary Steve Reich has, he has realized that his style can be inflected back in the direction of traditional classical forms and made to suit most any occasion. The two keyboard concertos recorded here provide pleasing examples. Neither one is a concerto in the usual sense, with the soloist defining an independent identity. Instead the keyboardists in both works generally provide Glass' trademark pulse, and in the outer movements they rarely get a rest. In the Piano Concerto No. 2, After Lewis and Clark, the most effective movement is the central "Sacagawea," evoking the Shoshone woman, pictured on the U.S. dollar coin, who saved the bacon of the two explorers. The movement is constructed around two flute themes, one of them of Shoshone origin, played here by renowned Native American flutist R. Carlos Nakai; they add something of the element of reverence that made Glass' film score Koyaanisquaatsi so successful. In the Concerto for harpsichord and orchestra Glass skillfully exploits the surface similarities between Baroque motor rhythms and his own basic procedures, using bits of jazz syncopation and some quasi-improvisatory passages, all in all creating a joyous, kinetic foot-tapper. Harpsichordist Jillon Stoppels Dupree gets into the enthusiastic spirit of the work, and conductor Ralf Gothoni, leading the Northwest Chamber Orchestra, keeps the energy level up without overwhelming the harpsichord - an aspect of the work that apparently gave Glass problems as the premiere performance (featuring these same forces) took shape. Listeners who have enjoyed hearing their local orchestras undertake one of Glass' growing catalog of symphonies would do well to try this variation on a theme.
The Concerto Project Vol. II is the second release in Orange Mountain Music's Concerto Project series and features two world premiere recordings of works by composer Philip Glass.
Pianist Paul Barnes performs Piano Concerto No. 2 "After Lewis and Clark" with the Northwest Chamber Orchestra conducted by Ralph Gothoni. The concerto was commissioned in part by the Nebraska Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commission in celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the explorers' journey across the American continent.
The three movements are titled "The Vision", "Sacagawea" and "The Land." The first and third movements bookend an intimate middle movement that features a traditional Shoshone Indian theme performed on the Native American flute by R. Carlos Nakai.
The dynamic flare of the first concerto is contrasted by the album's second work, Philip Glass's beautiful Concerto for Harpsichord and Orchestra. The three movement concerto is performed by harpsichordist Jillon Stoppels Dupree and the Northwest Chamber Orchestra conducted by Ralph Gothoni.
Marked by refined writing for chamber orchestra which showcases the most lush sounds of the harpsichord, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer raved:
The whole well designed work had life and shape and a beautiful balance between soloist and orchestra.
While the Seattle Times said:
Glass does understand how to score for the harpsichord, giving the soloist plenty of trills and other effects that demonstrate its melodic as well as percussive possibilities...
Originally released on September 12, 2006 on Orange Mountain Music (catalogue number 0030).