Sy. 2, SAX Q4 (Nonesuch)
Sy.3, Civil WarS, Light (Nonesuch)
Eschewing a successful relationship with Nonesuch, Philip Glass has decided that the musical world needed much more than just one Philip Glass release per year and founded his own label, Orange Mountain (distributed by Harmonia Mundi). Not much on it is so terribly exciting that it would merit recommending as a starting- or discovery point for your own Philip Glass exploration. His Sixth Symphony – “Plutonium Ode” - is one of the exceptions. There are, however, plenty gems that every good classical music collection should contain.
Sys. 2 & 3 (Naxos)
String Quartets (Nonesuch)
Einstein on the Beach
Music in 12 Parts
You don’t have to be a masochist to listen to nearly 200 minutes of random words, numbers, musical phrases, texts, but it certainly helps. There are not going to be many occasions where you will listen to it all in one sitting. In fact, don’t listen to it sitting. Listen to it while lying down. Be softly rocked by its repetitiveness, its swirls and swooshes… until you notice minute changes in the musical patterns to feel like the subtle pattern-changes of the waves that gently rock you up and down (like oceanic waves would you, being at their mercy in a life-jacket) are enormous in all their minimal distinction. Akhnaten is more accessible by far. With no string instruments involved, the sound is remarkably different (even if the tricks are the same). Unlike Einstein, you might catch yourself listening to this by free will on an innocent afternoon.
Music in 12 Parts may also be famous, but it makes Einstein sound whimsical. It’s all about the ‘experience’ – not the sound. About how you feel after having listened to over 200 minutes of running pulses and endless arpeggios – not how you feel while listening to any given part. It may well be an example of what is great about Philip Glass, but it is not a great place to start finding out why he is great. In fact, any other recording will be a better starting point.