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Glass: Powaqqatsi

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In 2002, Philip Glass toured in support of the four-disc set Glass on Film, culled from his movie scores. It was good to see that the Philip Glass Ensemble performed the long-underrated Powaqqatsi among his other collaborations with filmmaker Godfrey Reggio, because those electric keyboard works have outlasted the symphonic stuff. Back in the '80s, Glass didn't seem to think so. He aimed to become the thinking filmmaker's response to John Williams by turning his minimalist background to astringent, stately symphonic movie scores for Mishima, Hamburger Hill, and The Thin Blue Line. It's understandable how Powaqqatsi's music was overlooked: The synthesizers and the orchestra and booming percussion were uncomfortably cluttered and showbizzy. Even today, Powaqqatsi's Anthem sounds like a naked attempt at an instrumental hit like Vangelis' theme for Chariots of Fire. On the other hand, the melodic and textural similarities of the symphonic scores, plus the snatches cribbed from them for other movies, have deadened their appeal. Powaqqatsi is straight-up loud. Instead of Koyanisqqatsi's somber organ prelude (as in a Baptist service), Serra Pelada provides the mightiest track in Glass' career: a gamelan ensemble marching with a drum-and-bugle corp behind the voices of the Latin American Children's Ensemble (set off with a coach's whistle). Almost everywhere, the synthesizers and orchestra work and play together, while the tunes are actually memorable on their own. The three-part New Cities in Ancient Lands, set in China, Africa, and India, features woodwinds and keyboards from the Philip Glass Ensemble, with kalimbas and balafons strewn among the orchestra. Video Dream is simple lyricism, like the English horn that unrolls the Arabic melody of That Place. The ponderous Caught and two of the three Anthem reprises are mere clutter, but somehow Glass makes room for everything, even Foday Musa Suso's kora and vocals on Mr. Suso #1 and Mr. Suso #2 With Reflection. It adds up for a bright world music symphony.


Nacido(a): 31 de enero de 1937 en Baltimore, MD

Género: Clásica

Años de actividad: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Philip Glass was unquestionably among the most innovative and influential composers of the 20th century. Postmodern music's most celebrated and high-profile proponent, his myriad orchestral works, operas, film scores, and dance pieces proved essential to the development of ambient and new age sounds, and his fusions of Western and world musics were among the earliest and most successful global experiments of their kind. Born in Baltimore, MD, on January 31, 1937, Glass took up the flute at the...
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