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Glassworks remains Philip Glass’s bestseller from the middle period of his career, the recording by means of which many listeners familiarized themselves with his music. Conceived as a thematically whole instrumental studio album taking advantage of the promotional and marketing capabilities of what was then Glass’s new major label (CBS, now Sony Classical) and targeted at consumers intrigued with his newfound notoriety, Glassworks features six parts (three per side on the original LP and cassette), alternately meditative and frenetic, that have since broken free and developed lives of their own.

The most frequently rearranged and recorded part, “Facades,” is an outtake from the score to Godfrey Reggio’s film Koyaanisqatsi, which before editing had spent more time panning across the flat modernist surfaces of New York City skyscrapers, imparting a sense of alienation and despondency. Glass frequently performs the first part, “Opening,” in solo piano recitals. When his ensemble performs the second part, “Floe,” in concert, he adds a female voice where, in the recording, the horns perform the Sibelian accompaniment of stately rising and falling crotchets. Throughout, Glass popularizes his earlier idiom of relative rhythmic and harmonic stasis by enriching the instrumentation as well as modulating quickly and even–as in the case of “Rubric”–at a vertiginous pace.

This album was one of the first by a contemporary composer to be recorded digitally, and it has held up remarkably well since 1982 despite the slight harshness and hiss. (CBS remixed the cassette version to satisfy users of portable stereos–back then a fairly new technology.) Fans of Glass will have added this title to their collections long ago, but if you’re new to the composer’s tonal, reiterative music, Glassworks is still as good a place to start as any.

-Robert Burns Neveldine,

Philip Glass-GLASSWORKS (1982)

One Comment

  1. excelente aporte gracias mil!!!saludos

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