Philip Glass (b. 1937)
La Pietà/Angèle Dubeau (violin)
rec. 2023, CIRMMT, Schulich School of Music, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
Analekta AN28755 
Angèle Dubeau and her all-female chamber ensemble La Pietà have established a reputation over the last 25 years for intelligently curated programs, featuring almost exclusively contemporary composers. This is their second all-Glass album; the first, Portrait, from 2008, is a favourite album in my collection. As always, we are presented with excerpts from larger works, which might be seen as bitty and frustrating, but in my experience with these artists, that isn’t the case.
The chosen pieces come from a diverse range of sources – concert hall, film, theatre and chamber music – and span four decades, the earliest work being Glassworks from 1981. It is one of his most recorded (and arranged) pieces, and is a very good way to open the disc.
Now this is Philip Glass, so you do know what you are getting even if the music is unfamiliar. There is plenty of variety, within the constraints of the Glass soundworld. Let me just pick out a couple of standouts among the music I didn’t know. His 2018 Piano Quintet, on the basis of Part 1 at least, seems like an overview of his career, bringing together the lush melodies of The Hours with the motoric rhythms of his early music. Glass adapted some of his music from the 1997 film Bent for string quartet; the two movements here, arranged for string orchestra, are very impressive, and the closing work, taken from the soundtrack, where Angèle Dubeau plays solo, is a moving way to close.
The performances are quite excellent, as I’ve come to expect from this source, and the sound is very good. Now the one negative of this release: the booklet. There is a brief note from Dubeau, which outlines her love for the music of Philip Glass, and that is as close as we get to anything about the music. The rest is essentially promotional, and the sense of “waste” is emphasised by the amount of white space, which must be in excess of 50% across the 18 pages.
For Glass or Dubeau aficionados, this is a must-buy, and for the Glass waverers out there, this might be the disc that dispels doubts.
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Glassworks: I. Opening
Symphony No. 3: Movement IV
Metamorphosis: II. Metamorphosis Two. Flowing
Piano Quintet “Annunciation”: Part 1
A Brief History of Time: Signature – Utility No.1
Sonata for Violin & Piano: Movement III
Duo No. 1 for Violin and Cello
Duo No. 4 for Violin and Cello
Suite from Bent for String Quartet: II & V
Epilogue for Solo Violin (From Bent Soundtrack)