PRESS RELEASE Brno, 27.1.2022
One of the greatest composers of today, Philip Glass, is celebrating his 85th birthday on the last day of January. Filharmonie Brno is joining in the celebrations which are taking place in many different countries. Chief Conductor Dennis Russell Davies and his wife Maki Namekawa have been some of Glass’s closest friends for many years, and they are linked by intensive artistic collaboration. As such, on the eve of Glass’s birthday, they have arranged a piano recital of three works which the author wrote specifically for them. Additionally, they will be launching a CD of Glass’s Symphony No. 12 “Lodger”, which Filharmonie Brno was the first in the world to record. “We are honoured that thanks to our Chief Conductor’s relationship with Glass we can take part in the celebrations in this way, and we are particularly proud of our premiere recording,” says Filharmonie Brno Managing Director, Marie Kučerová.
Alongside Reich, Terry Riley and La Monte Young, Philip Glass was amongst the first wave of radical minimalists in the 1960s whose compositions turned away from classical musical forms and from tonal harmony. Their stress on rhythm and trance in endless series of fast fleeting notes didn’t just in some sense position minimalism close to popular music, but also opened up the field of classical music to a broader and lay public. “Glass hasn’t been that pure radical minimalist for a number of decades now. He has written a number of traditionally conceived operas and symphonies, and he has also composed sonatas and etudes, as our concert’s programme demonstrates. While his works continue to rely on the repetitive techniques of his own minimalism, these have been adapted to the traditional classical music canon,” says Filharmonie Brno Programme Director, Vítězslav Mikeš.
The evening begins with Six etudes, which Glass wrote in 1994 and dedicated to Davies for his fiftieth birthday. The audience should not be expecting the instructional pieces which etudes commonly are, but rather concert pieces conceived as studies for Glass’s work, as an interpretational probe into his sound and creative style.
This is followed by Glass’s Piano Sonata in its Czech premiere, which he wrote for Maki Namekawa in 2019. “I wanted to write a half-hour composition, giving Maki a piece for her repertoire, a work tailored to her which could move her forwards and in which she could exploit her talent and energy. I know the way she plays very well, in particular in terms of playing my pieces. She’s been playing my music for some time, so it was easy for me to grasp how to reflect her actual experience as a pianist,” Glass once said.
The second half of the evening sees Four Movements for Two Pianos, which Davies and Namekawa premiered in 2008. The sequencing and character of the individual movements is again reminiscent of a sonata series, this time with a quasi-dance (third) movement. All four movements are based on short motifs onto which new tones are added, gradually transforming the harmonic structure of the composition.
Despite his popularity, Glass does have a number of critics who accuse him of moving too far away from his original minimalist ideals in his later work, some even accusing him of pandering. “When Philip’s music became more accessible to the general public, it represented a huge contrast compared to all other music. It was different, unexpected, people enjoyed it, it gave them powerful experiences and they’re going to remember that. Philip then took a different, more complex path. I think it isn’t realistic to insist that he always compose in the same way,” says Davies. He realises that not everyone enjoys Glass’s later music. “Philip himself hardly worries about it. And as for myself, I can only give my own advice: I think we shouldn’t be troubling ourselves with defining what Philip Glass should be today, but rather we should be more consistently focused on what he has become,” adds Davies.
The concert begins at 7 pm in Besední dům, and it is being recorded by Czech Radio. The recording will then be available from the Euroradio radio network. Tickets are available from Filharmonie presales, at the venue ¾ hour prior to the performance, or also online at the filharmonie-brno.cz website. In order to gain admittance to the concert, those over 12 years of age need to show that they have been fully vaccinated, provide a document showing they have had the disease, or for recognised exceptions show a negative test. Precise conditions for admittance can be found here: Aktuální podmínky vstupu na koncert | Filharmonie Brno (filharmonie-brno.cz).
Media contact Kateřina Konečná, Head of PR and Marketing, Filharmonie Brno
+420 775 426 040 firstname.lastname@example.org