August 17, 2007

Propelled

Propelled across the Great Basin and the Mojave by Glass's attractively expansive 3rd Symphony (it's a perfect soundtrack for high desert two-lane blacktops), I had to ask: why did he write this as a symphony rather than a quartet? It's a natural for a quartet (a form he's written well for); his orchestration (19 piece string band) doesn't bring much to the piece for me, it just muddies the lines, subtracts from the power by adding to the volume (yes, he eventually gets 19 separate lines running simultaneously, but that feels a little gimmicky in context, something like wringing a Bolero from Metamorphosen).

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