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Album Review

Composing the music for a theater piece revolving around the life and work of photographer Eadweard Muybridge must have seemed a natural fit for Philip Glass, as Muybridge's stop action studies of people and animals in motion have a clear visual analogy in Glass repeating musical cells. Scored for his ensemble accompanied by a chamber orchestra, The Photographer is one of the works bridging the gap between his earlier compositions up through Einstein on the Beach and his later pieces for more traditional instrumentation. The unusual feature here is the presence of violinist Paul Zukofsky in what amounts to a soloist's role, his sawing lines often reminding one incongruously of a hoe-down. While the opening vocal version of "Act I" has an almost too precious and dainty feel, the remainder of the album chugs along at a robust pace familiar to fans of Glass' music. When the final section bursts to life after a lengthy prologue, the brass sputtering, the basslines percolating, one can hardly fail to admire his ability to excite an audience on a visceral level, even as one feels slightly guilty at the ease with which one has been manipulated.

Customer Reviews


I wish Act II was available by itself, because I pretty much only listen to this track. I grew up listening to it because it was the soundtrack of a short film that was frequently played on my public broadcast station. After over a decade of searching, I have finally found it! This music is based on the life of Eadweard Muybridge, who apparently was involved in the O.J. Simpson trial of his day - he killed his wife's lover. He was of course more famous for being the photographer who unlocked the secret of how a horse gallops, hence the cover art. "A Gentleman's Honor" is a bit peculiar. But Act II is incredible.

agree w/ big smella

Act III is one of the most amazing pieces of music Ive ever heard. It starts simply enough and just builds and builds and builds and builds. That this music was ever performed live is hard to believe, but it was. Those are real human voices, doing all those ha ha ha ha's. When the bass emulator kicks in and gets your woofers pumping, your heart rate starts pumping along with them. I played this in my car on a long trip home from Vt. one night and my 3 passengers stopped talking about 3 minutes in and remained dead silent for the rest of the track, and for a good minute after it ended. This is powerful cathartic stuff---Truly remarkable. The rest of the album is enjoyable too, I like all the tracks. Buy the CD in a store though, these mp3s (or AACs, whatever they are) dont do it justice


Act III of 'The Photographer' may be one of the best pieces of music ever written. Period. Buy this album if only for that - allow it is ALL most enjoyable!

Glass: The Photographer, Michael Riesman
View In iTunes

Customer Ratings

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