Philip Glass: Book of Longing

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - William Ruhlmann
In May 2006, Leonard Cohen published his first collection of poetry in 22 years, Book of Longing, having previously used some of the material as songs on his most recent albums, Ten New Songs 2001 and Dear Heather 2004. The book touched on many of the themes he had explored throughout his writing career, including spirituality he had spent part of his time between books as a postulant at a Buddhist monastery, eroticism, and self-deprecating humor. On June 1, 2007, at the Luminato Festival in Toronto, Ontario, composer Philip Glass premiered his song cycle based on Book of Longing, which is here given a two-CD recording. Cohen is present on the album speaking not ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - William Ruhlmann
In May 2006, Leonard Cohen published his first collection of poetry in 22 years, Book of Longing, having previously used some of the material as songs on his most recent albums, Ten New Songs 2001 and Dear Heather 2004. The book touched on many of the themes he had explored throughout his writing career, including spirituality he had spent part of his time between books as a postulant at a Buddhist monastery, eroticism, and self-deprecating humor. On June 1, 2007, at the Luminato Festival in Toronto, Ontario, composer Philip Glass premiered his song cycle based on Book of Longing, which is here given a two-CD recording. Cohen is present on the album speaking not singing some of his poems, and Glass also has set some of them to music, with singing by a soprano Dominique Plaisant, a mezzo-soprano Tara Hugo, a tenor Will Erat, and a bass-baritone Daniel Keeling. The obvious antecedent is Glass' 1986 album Songs from Liquid Days, which set lyrics by the likes of Paul Simon and Suzanne Vega, but perhaps a closer one is Cohen's album Death of a Ladies' Man 1977, his collaboration with Phil Spector. It's not that Book of Longing ever sounds like Death of a Ladies' Man, but the similarity lies in the mixture of two distinct styles. For better or worse, Death of a Ladies' Man sounds like what one would expect of the unlikely mixture of Cohen's droll, deep-voiced singing with Spector's elaborate production style, and Book of Longing is, as one might expect, a fusion of Cohen's poetic voice with Glass' distinctive circular rhythmic motifs. It is actually somewhat more respectful of the text than Songs from Liquid Days, although listeners still may find it odd to hear art songs in which Cohen's sometimes R-rated language is sung in a formal style by classically trained voices. These selections alternate with a series of tracks, notably "Not a Jew," "I Enjoyed the Laughter," "Don't Have the Proof," and "I Am Now Able," in which Cohen without any musical backing recites a very short poem either before or after a solo by an individual instrument oboe, violin, saxophone, and cello, respectively. Fans of Ten New Songs and Dear Heather will hear some familiar phrases and references e.g., "a thousand kisses deep" is the tag line of "You Came to Me This Morning," as it is of the song "A Thousand Kisses Deep", although no complete song/poem has been repeated. Cohen may still be at his best as his own interpreter, but this is one of the more interesting and ambitious attempts to recast his writing in musical form.
New York Times - Allan Kozinn
[Glass] provides graceful, constrained melodies that cling tightly to the texts and sometimes mirror Mr. Cohen's own style.... The instrumentalists play this music exquisitely.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 12/11/2007
  • Label: Orange Mountain
  • UPC: 801837004328
  • Catalog Number: 43
  • Sales rank: 54,719

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Leonard Cohen Primary Artist, Spoken Word
Philip Glass Keyboards
Michael Riesman Conductor, Keyboards
Kate St. John English Horn, Oboe
Andrew Sterman Flute, Bass Clarinet, Piccolo, Saxophone
Wendy Sutter Cello
Tara Hugo Mezzo-Soprano (Vocal)
Eleonore Oppenheim Double Bass
Timothy Fain Violin
Daniel Keeling Baritone (Vocal)
Megan Marolf English Horn, Oboe
Will Erat Tenor (Vocal)
Dominique Plaisant Soprano (Vocal)
Mick Rossi Percussion, Keyboards
Will Erat Tenor (Vocal)
Daniel Keeling Brass Baritone
Tim Fain Violin
Technical Credits
Leonard Cohen Images, Text
Philip Glass Composer, Executive Producer
Don Christensen Producer, Executive Producer
Dan Dryden Engineer
Kurt Munkasci Executive Producer
Michael Riesman Producer, Music Direction
Jim Keller Director
Timothy O'Donnell Legal Advisor
Jennie Bowman Production Stage Manager
Michael Petit Cover Design
Jimmy Woodard Company Manager
Jim Woodard Company Manager
Kaleb Kilkenny Management
Jenni Bowman Production Stage Manager
Kasia Walicka Maimone Costume Design
Stephen Erb Engineer
Tim O'Donnell Legal Advisor
Susan Marshall Stage Direction
Linda Brumbach Producer, Executive Producer
Jessica Lehrman Administrative Assistant
Richard Guerin Legal Advisor
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