Philip Glass Solo
Philip Glass, piano
Orange Mountain Music

This is the second piano album made by Philip Glass. Solo Piano (1989) contains some overlap of tracks with the latest recording, Philip Glass Solo (2024), but there are distinct differences between the renditions on each. At 87 years of age, and in demand from opera houses, symphony orchestras, chamber ensembles, and filmmakers for a steady spate of new works, a solo performance recording might seem like an unnecessary addition to Glass’s catalog. But it is in those aforementioned differences found in the music that he shares a different vantage point on his work.

Timings suggest tempo and, in the case of Glass’s music, tempo fluctuations. “Mad Rush,” a work that many pianists have interpreted, here appears like it is being created before the listeners’ ear, lasting a few minutes longer than the previous recording, with a sense of suppleness that belies the motoric fashion many adopt when playing it. “Opening” has a pulsation to the ostinato patterns that shimmers, different voices accentuated in the texture to create a gesture akin to windmills instead of, again, motors.

Four of the “Metamorphosis” movements are programmed. Here, there is a positively Romantic ambience that in “Metamorphosis 1” recalls the shifting appearances of Schumann’s “Papillon.” “Metamorphosis 2” has soaring high melodies like those of Chopin, while thunderous bass, modal mixture, and hemiola give a Brahmsian cast to “Metamorphosis 3.” “Metamorphosis 5” is girded with chromaticism of a Lisztian variety.

“Truman Sleeps” is one of the most memorable sections of Glass’s score for The Truman Show. Here, he builds from a delicate, rubato opening to virile verticals and a gripping, arcing melody. The piece’s coda moves the material down to the bass register, its chord progression both eminently memorable and vintage Glass.

-Christian Carey