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Glass: Akhnaten
Philip Glass, Dennis Russell Davies, Stuttgart State Opera Orchestra
Glass: Akhnaten
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (7) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (7) - Disc #2


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And the Music Stands Alone
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 09/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Philip Glass is a theater person whose wide popularity has been greatly enhanced by the visuals that accompany his music: the music score for the film 'The Hours', his triptych of operas about men who changed the world in science ('Einstein on the Beach'), in politics ('Satyagraha') and religion ('Akhnaten') are just a few examples. Though his works for chamber orchestra and his symphonies enjoy wide acclaim, the purely musical values inherent in his operas have for the most part been relegated to recordings. To experience the pure music live without the visuals is an experience that should happen more often. As part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic's adventurous and acclaimed 'Minimalist Jukebox' series, composer/conductor John Adams conducted important excerpts from this opera, for the first time allowing the stunned and wildly enthusiastic audience to appreciate the orchestral writing, the magnificent choral writing and the incomparable beauty of the countertenor Akhnaten (as sung by Daniel Bubeck) in the glory of the acoustic wonder of Disney Hall. The effect was overwhelming and turns the listener back to this full recording of the opera with enhanced appreciation.

'Akhnaten' is a little miracle of minimalist opera. The orchestral scoring is for large orchestra minus violins (keeping his original opera small to fit in the orchestra pit at premiere gave that idea to Glass) with an interesting array of percussion instruments. The Prelude quietly sets the pulsating, quivering tone of ancient Egypt and after a narrator sets the scene for the death of Akhnaten's father, the funeral music is wildly percussive and full of brass figurations. The choral declarations are pulsatile and beautifully balanced with the orchestra. Yet when Akhnaten's unfolds his concept of monotheism, his countertenor lines are paralleled with trumpet in a truly spiritual ambience. The death of Akhnaten as proscribed by three male soloists is echoed in the choral writing for the crowd's response. It is a visceral experience.

The recording captures all of the opera in fine, precise style and is easily a recording to return to for moments of favorite Glass writing. It is just satisfying to know that even excerpts played in a symphony hall validate the wonderful work the opera is. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, September 06

Philip Glass does it again...and again...and again!
Angel A. Valadez | 12/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Akhnaten is not your typical opera, then again Philip Glass is not your typical composer...If you want something new and catchy...well...GET IT! It's great, as everything of his is..., and wow the blows you away, sooooo simple yet to good. If you want to relive history...GET THIS CD! Cuz its good! Trust me on this one. There's not a lot of singing as you would expect in an Opera, but hey there's some! Get over it. The only thing that could make this Cd better was if it came with a DVD so you could watch the Opera...but then again...if you were to be looking for a DVD you wouldnt be reading this would you? Philip Glass combines ancient themes with new themes and what does he get? One Great Cd! If you're traveling far in a car or even an Airplane (i would recomend a car at night, but thats just me)this cd can make time go by. Of course you're going to need the Libretto, and sense you did not want to pay 40$ or even more for the other Akhnaten, you're stuck with the music...and you can't understand most of it...WRONG! go to click on lyrics and there u go. You got the Libretto and a bit of history. This dude can really compose...unlike Mr.Reich...So if u want it, get it! If you dont...GET IT! You'll like me!"
Changed my mind about Glass
Robert J. Salm | Chicago, IL USA | 02/14/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I have never been a fan of Philip Glass's vacant arpeggios and minimalism. After sitting through a rather typically monotonous Glass opera, "In the Penal Colony," I swore I would give little attention to future works; true, I avoid concerts where Glass is on the bill without contemporaries. However, perusing our public library, I came across the opera, "Akhnaten," and signed it out on a whim. What an interesting and engrossing twist from operas I am used to hearing at random: Puccini, Wagner, Verdi, etc. Perhaps it was my interest and acceptance of the postminimal style of John C. Adams, specifically, his opera "Nixon in China." I enjoyed Akhnaten; the melodies, the subtle weaving of chords and of course, the visions I created in my mind of the scenery and pageantry the music blossoms. The Act II, Scene 4, "Akhnaten's Hymn to the Aten" is one of the most musically intense and spiritual parts to this opera, and it certainly changed my mind about Glass, even if for a few hours."