Philip Glass: Symphony No. 5

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Scott Paulin
In a famous conversation with Jean Sibelius, Gustav Mahler asserted that "the symphony must be like the world. It must be all-embracing." His own symphonies, conceived on a vaster scale than any before his time, prove the point, but Philip Glass seems to have taken the idea and run a veritable marathon with it. His Fifth Symphony 1999 is a 12-movement, 100-minute behemoth for chorus, children's choir, and five vocal soloists in addition to a large orchestra. Glass isn't satisfied with merely a single subtitle for the work, either, but designates three: Requiem, in reference to Christian funeral rites, Bardo, an in-between state in Buddhism, and Nirmanakaya, or "the ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Scott Paulin
In a famous conversation with Jean Sibelius, Gustav Mahler asserted that "the symphony must be like the world. It must be all-embracing." His own symphonies, conceived on a vaster scale than any before his time, prove the point, but Philip Glass seems to have taken the idea and run a veritable marathon with it. His Fifth Symphony 1999 is a 12-movement, 100-minute behemoth for chorus, children's choir, and five vocal soloists in addition to a large orchestra. Glass isn't satisfied with merely a single subtitle for the work, either, but designates three: Requiem, in reference to Christian funeral rites, Bardo, an in-between state in Buddhism, and Nirmanakaya, or "the future manifestation of enlightened activity," as the composer puts it. Commissioned as a millennium celebration work for the Salzburg Festival, there's a grand scheme at work here to encompass, well, just about everything, and then some. Beginning "Before the Creation" much like John Tavener's Fall and Resurrection, another millennial work that strives to exceed the bonds of time itself, the symphony proceeds through the creation and subsequent stages of "Suffering," "Death," "Judgment and Apocalypse," and "Paradise," before closing with a final "Dedication" to the future. Glass also embraces a vast array of what he calls "the world's great 'wisdom' traditions" -- the texts, all translated into English, are drawn from the Rig-Veda, the Bhagavad Gita, the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the Bible, the Koran, the poems of Rumi, and myths from Hawaii, China, Japan, Africa, and elsewhere.

But what about the music? Glass fans and foes alike know what to expect, but his trademark hypnotic repetitions are a uniquely appropriate match for the primordial and eternal mysteries this symphony strives to evoke. The huge vocal and instrumental forces and the diversity of the texts have inspired Glass to travel an inventive and satisfying path that mostly skirts monotony, despite its length, thanks in large part to the moving lyricism of the vocal solos. Mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, who has also recorded the "Rome Section" from Glass's the CIVIL warS, sings most eloquently here, sharing turns in the spotlight with soprano Ana Maria Martinez, tenor Michael Schade, baritone Eric Owens, and bass-baritone Albert Dohmen. Dennis Russell Davies, who conducted the symphony's world premiere performance, directs the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Morgan State University Choir, and the Hungarian Radio Children's Choir with a firm and steady hand. With his Fifth, Glass proves yet again that minimal musical means can produce a maximal effect.

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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/3/2000
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • UPC: 075597961829
  • Catalog Number: 79618

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Symphony No. 5 ("Choral"), for 5 soloists, chorus, children's chorus & orchestra - Philip Glass & ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra (96:44)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Dennis Russell Davies Primary Artist
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