Monday, October 29, 2007

Speaking of Alex Ross...

From the 5th November, 2007, New Yorker:
Quantity is the problem: Glass writes faster than most of us can listen. In this respect, he resembles two earlier twentieth-century figures, Paul Hindemith and Darius Milhaud, both of whom shifted in middle age from a brazenly youthful style to a mature, workmanlike one, generating hundreds of semi-interchangeable works. Hindemith was often linked to the concept of “music for use”: if asked to write a piece for three bassoons and ukulele, he would comply, not worrying about the approval of the invisible judges of posterity. In the face of such Stakhanovite productivity, the listener is tempted to throw up his hands in frustration and dismiss the entire catalogue as so much musical scribbling. But it’s worth taking the trouble to discover first-rate pieces amid the reams of pretty good ones. Certainly, no one can deny that Glass possesses an instantly recognizable signature sound; the question now is whether that signature is being produced by automatic pen.
"The Endless Scroll: New Works by Philip Glass."

This is an intelligent and considered piece about one of the most prolific composers of our age, but a composer who - in my view - has been writing (more or less) the same music as long as I have been listening (or, for that matter, alive). Ross' take is worth a read.

4 Comments:

At 7:03 PM, Anonymous Karl Henning said...

I am feeling that I have given Glass 'enough ear time'; this is not to say that it is impossible for him to improve/change as an artist, nor that it is impossible that he might at some time write a piece to which I should listen, and find that every minute of listening was a minute well given to the composer. But admitting the possibility is one thing, and looking back at what my ears have gotten in return for time already spent listening to him, is another. Might I listen to Glass again? I refuse to answer definitely either yes or no. But for some little while, my ears are seeking out other things, including other living composers.

Cheers,
~Karl

 
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