Music is Music is Music is Music

Philip Glass and Tim Fain

Philip Glass and Tim Fain

The beauty of repetition is when it breaks out of repetition and spins into infinity.   The beauty of seeing Philip Glass – master of repetition – is seeing how his endless patterning has lead him break into every sphere.   His muse is everywhere; he hears “his sound” in all sorts of places. His open, radical ear has served him well: he has gone from avant-garde decades ago to some sort of beloved American master of American idiom.

There’s a sleight of hand there; Glass’s music has been pegged as “minimal,” and ur-modern, but in those repeating patterns I suddenly heard the essence of Baroque Bach. In pieces composed for violinist Tim Fain, aptly called “Chaconne from Partita,” Glass inhabits classical majesty with a kick.   On the recent Glass-Fain duo tour which stopped in Providence for FirstWorks and continues internationally, Fain came onstage as a downtown pretty boy, with corkscrew curls falling to one side of his unwrinkled brow. He quickly took on the two masters. His virtuosity created a space of warmth, intimacy and personal struggle. I heard edge of Bach and the edge of rock.

Out of Glass’s patterns popped boogie-woogie and jazz. I heard the one-finger melodies that pop music loves and people love in pop music. The music sounded “popular.” Today’s popular can be yesterday’s difficult. His very structure is the link, the weaving of particles that feel like knitted shards of glass.  What’s fascinating is how with those small shards Glass links up all of music.

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3 Responses to Music is Music is Music is Music

  1. Sarah says:

    I don’t love Glass but I absolutely love the music in this review. “Classical majesty with a kick”? Synesthetic mastery.
    Jill, you should be a music critic. Oh wait… (-:

    • jillbpearlman says:

      Thanks, Sarah. Glass always seemed pretty tidy, but I discovered that he multiplied outward. Plus, I don’t know if you remember “The Screens” project from Genet’s play in Paris. Without Foday Musa Suso it wasn’t the same, but the piece called “France” had a nice rage to it!

  2. Tom says:

    Lovely concert review. The pun on Glass’s name seems almost inevitable, now that you’ve done it! The mark of poetry in the prose.

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