Sunday, March 29, 2009

Philip Glass, "Evening Song"

I like Glass's work on the whole, though I'll be the first to admit that he's written some things that are just flat unpleasant. This, though . . .

. . . is another matter entirely.

This is the concluding piece from his opera, Satyagraha, Glass's opera about Gandhi's organizing of Indian immigrant workers in South Africa, whom the British discriminated against, and out of which emerged his ideas about nonviolent resistance which he would later use to win independence for India. The opera itself is a bit hit-and-miss melodically, though more hit than miss. You'll want to sample it before plunking down $44 for it.

Douglas Perry is the singer, and Sanskrit is the language. And whatever the Sanskrit word for "gorgeous" is, this is it.


Cordelia said...

Wow, thanks for this, and for the previous entry, which is near publishable (y'know, in the ol' fashioned sense of the word). Great to have you back again ! I'll be downloading the Glass video momentarily.

John B. said...


Thanks for the very kind welcome back--it's most appreciated.

I'm glad you liked the song--by a sheer fluke of having been listening to an NPR program on contemporary opera many, many years ago, this song, I'm pretty sure, served as my introduction to Glass's music. In light of some things by him I've heard since then, I'm glad it was this and not one of those other things. Emerson says somewhere that we always end up reading the books we are meant to read; I'd like to think the same applies to music--there certainly are times when I hear this piece that I feel I was meant to hear it.

Thanks as well for the compliment on the other post, too. It's hard to talk about it adequately without saying too much about its particulars. Much of its thematic complexity comes--heck, it erupts--during the investigation of Mrs. Baines' murder, and it undoubtedly works better if, as was the case with me, the viewer sees the film knowing as little about it as possible. If it were a more widely-known film, I'd just blab away and tell you the meaning of "Rosebud" while I was at it.

Doc said...

i've been stuck on glass since i first hear einstein...; venice, sometime in the mid 70s while i was still overseas. saw akhnaten next, then back to this one. i've been lucky in that glass comes to the kc area with some regularity, though the last performance worth noting here was mid 90s - the ensemble performed his score, live, to a silent screening of la belle at la bete...reminf me to sometime post a pic of the framed poster for that...

he does tend to play at universities. has he been down wichita way?

John B. said...

Hey, Doc--thanks for stopping by. I have the Philip on Film box-set that came out a few years ago; it has the soundtrack to La Belle et le Bete included, which I like, and his soundtrack to Dracula, which I really like.

To my knowledge, Glass hasn't been here. As it happens, though, he'll be in Lawrence at the Lied Center on April 7. Here's the link, if you or anyone else is interested.