Philip Glass: Music for Two Pianos
Wednesday, December 6, 2017, St. John’s Presbyterian Church, Berkeley, CA
In honor of his 80th birthday … a benefit for OTHER MINDS
Charles Amirkhaninan writes: "Other Minds has hosted its share of inimitables over the past quarter century of promoting maverick new music. But no one deserves that sobriquet more than my brilliant, talented and predictably adventurous friend Dennis Russell Davies. We thank him and Maki Namekawa for generously proposing this benefit concert to honor their friend and colleague composer Philip Glass on the occasion of his 80th birthday.”
This evening’s performance begins with the suite from the opera Les Enfants terribles exploring the expressive possibilities of multiple pianos. The opera is the third part of a trilogy of operas based on the works of Jean Cocteau. “Les Enfants” is a story of quasi- incest between siblings, jealousy, and mind games. This period represented a great turning in Glass’ music towards more emotional and mature subject matter. The music from this “dance-opera” ranges from a thrilling overture which opens the piece to sounds straight from French music (The Bedroom) to a vivid portrayal of Sleepwalking in music (Elizabeth Chooses a Career).
Suite from Les Enfants terrible (1996)
arranged for 2 pianos by Maki Namekawa & Dennis Russell Davies
ii The Bedroom
iii Paul Sleepwalking
iv Snow Falling in the Playground
v Elizabeth Chooses a Career
vi Death of the Twins/Finale
Tonight, Other Minds presents the American premiere of the suite from Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête for two pianos and eight winds. La Belle et la Bête (1946) is Glass’ second opera based on works by Cocteau and a classic of French cinema. The original version is performed in conjunction with the projected film (with the original version soundtrack eliminated entirely) and the dialogue is sung.
Cocteau’s is the first definitive version of the fairy tale (the second being Walt Disney’s version of 1991). Through Cocteau’s extraordinary cinematic alchemy, the ordinary world is transformed into a dreamlike and poetic world of magic. The power of the creative and natural realms, represented respectively by Beauty and the Beast, finally emerges and allows the world of imagination to take flight.
Music from the opera La Belle et la Bête (1994)
arranged for 2 pianos and wind octet by Michael Riesman
ii Beauty Goes to the Castle
iii Dinner at the Castle
iv The Beast’s Anguish
v A Walk in the Garden
vi The Pavilion
vii The Metamorphosis
With the Other Minds Ensemble: Oboe: Robin May and Ryan Zwahlen; Clarinet: Peter Josheff and Larry London; Bassoon: Deborah Kramer and Shawn Jones; French Horn: Katie Dennis and Scott Hartman.
The first true collaboration of all three performers took place in 2008 when the Klavier Festival Ruhr commissioned Glass’ Four Movements for Two Pianos, a piece that has gone on to become a repertoire piece for two pianists.
Four Movements for Two Pianos builds widely upon the expressive possibility of multiple pianos. The compacted harmonies stand in contrast to earlier Glass pieces of the past 15 years. The composer, still using repetition, moved toward a new turn harmonic development through autodidactic processes, that is to say that the supplementary notes Glass introduces to the harmonies that are at first heard as “wrong” are quickly heard in their proper context. Also of interest are the roles the soloists play in the work. The piece does not limit performers to a certain range of the piano for the duration of the piece. Glass has each performer exchanging roles freely. That choice results in the listener hearing each performer’s style in different ranges at different moments in the piece.
Four Movements for Two Pianos (2008)
i quarter note = 144
ii quarter note = 84
iii quarter note = 116
iv quarter note = 80
[Notes by Randall Wong and Richard Guerin, taken from the printed program.]
For more detailed program information and to browse other material in the Other Minds Archive visit: radiOM.org