United States Philip Glass, Mixtape: Adam Tendler (piano), Jenny Lin (piano). Offered by San Francisco Performances, Herbst Theatre, San Francisco, 19.11.2022. (HS)
Glass – Mad Rush (arr. Lin/Tendler); Distant Determine: Passacaglia for solo piano; Choices from Les enfants terribles for 2 pianos [world premiere]; Etude No.16; Etude No.2; 4 Actions for Two Pianos
A ‘mixtape’ is a time period that dates from the Seventies, which is about when composer Philip Glass hit the scene along with his music. To make a mixtape, one copied a number of favourite tracks to a cassette (bear in mind cassettes?), often with some try to create easy segues from one piece to the following.
Pianists Adam Tendler and Jenny Lin utilized the thought to their recital of Glass piano works on the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco, and it made a sure sense. The primary two items, for instance, started and ended with related musical figures, a back-and-forth between two adjoining notes. These solo items had been performed with out pause, first Tendler with Mad Rush, written in 1979 for a New York look by the Dalai Lama, after which Lin with Distant Determine, a more moderen piece.
The distinction between the 2 works demonstrated how Glass’s musical fashion grew to become richer and extra advanced over the 38 years that separated them.
Within the hypnotic fashion acquainted from his early minimalist items, Mad Rush establishes a shifting melodic gesture repeat. Tendler appeared to hold it within the air, till the best hand reached left for the following chord and pitched a minor third decrease to create a form of sigh. Because the piece progressed, a chiming determine in the best hand steadily expanded with every repetition, one other Glass signature. Tendler’s taking part in right here softened the perimeters of Glass’s repetitiveness, making the piece right into a meditation actually applicable for the Dalai Lama.
With out a break, Lin segued into Distant Determine, subtitled ‘Passacaglia for solo piano’. Though a conventional passacaglia relies on a repeated bass line and constructs variations above it, the Glass model, written in 2017, form of sneaks within the bass line late within the piece. It begins with a gently rocking shift of a minor third. As a substitute of a bass line, we hear cycles of shifting chords, with contrasting rhythms – triplets and sextuplets in opposition to twos and fours – creating surprising variations because the music swells to a climactic end in opposition to, lastly, a powerful bass line. Lin discovered a supple groove to carry this colourful music to life. Her contact introduced out the glint within the ever-growing arpeggios and different embellishments that reached a wealthy climax earlier than receding within the remaining few measures.
Subsequent got here 4 segments from Glass’s 1996 Les enfants terribles, the third opera in his Cocteau Trilogy (the others had been La belle et la bête and Orphée). Initially carried out for 3 pianos, this discount for 2 was billed as a world premiere. The pianists tore into the overture with crispness and a way of abandon, then painted a considerably softer portrait for ‘The Somnambulist’. The third section, ‘Are You in Love, Agathe?’, got here off as a research in musical swirls, which dipped and dodged in uncommon instructions. The finale, ‘Paul’s Finish’, ultimately returned to a few of the dissonances from the overture and introduced the primary half to a full of life end.
The second half of this system adopted the same arc. Two solo etudes, written in 1994 and 2012, preceded a two-piano suite. Lin squeezed loads of harmonic sweetness out of Etude No.16. With out a pause, Tendler entered with Etude No.2 in C main, lending a deft contact to this research in arpeggios. It nods to Bach’s C-major prelude from The Nicely-Tempered Klavier earlier than straying into extra advanced harmonies.
4 Actions for Two Pianos from 2008, the largest and maybe most difficult work on this program, summarized Glass’s tropes and elegance ideally, and obtained an enthusiastic and spectacular efficiency. Lin and Tendler relished the contrasting sections of Motion I, first driving rhythmically earlier than discovering a softer respite. A mild tempo introduced out the harmonic subtleties of the quieter Motion II.
The pianists dug into Motion III, which will get its fireworks from overlapping meters, bringing the music to an exciting climax earlier than subsiding into an unexpectedly fast end. Motion IV settled into one of many composer’s signature ostinatos, which despatched off pianistic thrives and harmonic surprises till its ending disappeared in mid-phrase.
The appropriately named encore, ‘Closing’ from Glassworks (1982), despatched the viewers residence with a six-minute bubbly romp by means of contrasting rhythms and rapidly shifting harmonies.