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Gavin Bryars and Philip Glass - Single

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Album Review

Sentieri Selvaggi, made up of some of the brightest young Italian musicians to emerge around the turn of the millennium, has devoted itself to a wide range of contemporary music, ranging stylistically from Glass to Stockhausen. The two eight-minute pieces recorded here are taken from the full-length 1999 album Musica Coelestis, which included 12 pieces. The outstanding sound is clean and the instruments are vividly differentiated. The performance of the Glass is a reminder of the variety of interpretations that can be brought to minimalist repertoire. Glass and his ensemble perform Façades with rhythmic strictness, but with linear expressiveness; in fact, it comes across as one of the composer's more overtly emotional pieces. Sentieri Selvaggi performs it with absolute strictness with both rhythmic and dynamic contours. This makes for a square-ish performance, but it works on its own terms. It also tends to be somewhat bass-heavy, which has the advantage of making Glass' subtle changes in the lower string parts clearly audible. Bryars' Sub Rosa, for an unusually quirky ensemble of timbrally disparate instruments, is something of a remix for live performers of Throughout, a song from Bill Frisell's 1984 album, In Line. Sentieri Selvaggi's recording is superior to Bryars' own murky version largely because of the splendidly clear sound quality that allows the strangeness of the ensemble to be savored and wondered at. It's a short CD, but one that should interest fans of Bryars and Glass.

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