Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Glass: Symphony No.7 'Toltec'
Orange Mountain Music presents the world premiere recording of Philip Glass' Symphony No.7 Toltec; conducted by Dennis Russell Davies and performed by the Bruckner Orchester Linz with the Linz Opera Chorus. The 2004 symph... more »
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Orange Mountain Music presents the world premiere recording of Philip Glass' Symphony No.7 Toltec; conducted by Dennis Russell Davies and performed by the Bruckner Orchester Linz with the Linz Opera Chorus. The 2004 symphony is a dedication to the Mesoamerican Toltec tradition. It was an advanced civilization which existed between 500 B.C. and 500 A.D. Glass gives us a three-movement work representing the holy trinity of the Wirrarika: Movement One: The Corn, Movement Two: The Hikuri (Sacred Root), and Movement Three: The Blue Deer.
Two-parts 'Toltec', one-part 'Qatsi'
Douglas Burkett | Central FL | 11/15/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Owning about every Glass CD available and having enjoyed all of Glass' Symphonies and the wide range of musical soundscapes and subjects they cover I was of course very excited about No.7 being released.
With this No.7 we again have a wide range of mood and sound dynamics with both orchestra and the chorus between and within each of the movements. I found the direction under Davies superb and even though the liner notes state this as being a 'live' recoding the quality and mix is still very good and there is great clarity and balance throughout the orchestra. Had I not known this was a 'live' recording it would not have been as obvious as some 'live' recordings are; I did not notice the poor sound quality, poor orchestra sound balance or the obligatory coughing on this recording. For being 'live' this was a very technically sound recording but I wish somewhere in the Amazon title of the product it would have said in advance that it was such.
The first two movements are unique in that they are original compositions and that they continue to show Glass' evolution as a composer. I found these first two movements stirring and striking in their building and climaxes. While maintaining predictable (but enjoyable) Glass-like rhythm, these two movements contain a lot of interesting techniques and mixes of timbres and tonalaties. At times the orchestration and peaks of the movements are kind of a hybrid between the sound palettes of 'Itaipu' and 'Akhnaten' just to give a slight idea. The chorus is used as an instrument here as they are in 'Itaipu'. Overall a very wonderful, dynamic and very skilled two movements from Glass.
I also commend the performance of the Bruckner Orchester Linz on this CD. Not only do they do an excellent job (in my opinion) on this live recording but they are able to keep the more heavy moments of the work from getting too 'bogged down' and are able to keep these moments filled with heavy grandeur without succumbing to the weight of the music. Davies also earns praise in this aspect as well. The performance is also very clean and crisp without being too bright for the mood of the piece.
However, the Third Movement is what kept this from being a great album. The entire Third Movement of this Symphony is an extended, orchestrated version of the track 'The Unutterable' from 'Powaqqatsi'. It's not just a small part of it or just a segment of it or even a variation of it...it IS the exact same track extended and scored for orchestra. It is a wonderful piece of music both on this recording and on the original 'Powaqqatsi' soundtrack but I expected three movements of an original composition and not two amazing, original movements followed by a re-orchestration of a previously composed piece (as good as it is on its own). If you have not heard it before it will be wonderful but it was a let down and when it first started playing I honestly thought for a moment that the disc changer had started playing the 'Powaqqatsi' CD for some reason.
So, other than for Glass 'borrowing' from himself for the entire Third Movement it is a wonderful work and there is still an enjoyment of listening to the orchestrated version of 'The Unutterable', but it's still disappointing not to have three completely original pieces for this otherwise magnificant work.
M. A. D. Winkler | Mexico City, Mexico | 02/11/2010
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I've cherished Philip Glass' music for a long time now (about 14 years). I almost have all of his discs and/or get borrowed copies of the newest ones (released mainly in the OMM catalogue).
The two newest (to date) releases seem extremely uninspired music: nothing new, nothing great, nothing moving, even auto-plagirized.
Symphony No. 7 "Toltec" has nothing to do with the Mesoamerican civilization except for the name, and the third movement is completely copied (except for orchestration) from Powaqqatsi.
Madrigal Opera is the second OMM release I refer too, which is completely uninventive and extremely boring.
Lost are the days of good Glass music recording. I just wish "Galileo Galilei", "Appomattox", "The Making of the Representative for Planet 8", "The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five" were in the OMM music list of future releases.
Fortunately for us, Mr. Glass is still doing some very strong composing (Symphony No. 8 is a good example), it's just that the recent available discs are too weak an offer."
Toltec Wisdom as Music
Bing-Alguin | 04/11/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Philip Glass has created a distinct musical style for himself, easy to recognise even among other minimalist music. A certain lethargic monotony thretanes his composing, so when listening to his new symphony, the seventh, the first question you ask is: what new things, what thrills, has he elaborated in this work for a renewal? In the beginning you may feel that a certain reiteration makes itself evident, but the second movement is undoubtedly Glass at the summit of his power, a rythmic, vital, almost boisterous choir movement, pulsating with energy, whereas the last movement is a more peaceful piece with long pauses and a mystic vein, in a contemplative mood.
What is "Toltec"? Toltec is the name of an early, pre-Aztec, Mexican culture, which took a definitive interest in philosophical and metaphysical questions. And that is what Glass has tried to convert into music. The first movement, "The Corn", is the symbolic expression for "the intimate relationship and interdependency betweens humans and nature", according to Victor Sanchez in his very informative sleeve-note. The second movement is about "The Hikkuri", that is the "Sacred Roots", growing in the northern Mexico and supposed to be the entrance to the Otherworld. The third Movement,"The Blue Deer", represents individual fate, the way to live. These explanations are necessary, if you want to grasp the inner meaning of the music.
What a global, multi-cultural music this is after all? Old Mexican wisdom, mediated by the Bruckner Orchestra in Austrian Linz. Toltec and Bruckner, quite a giant stride, isn't it? But brilliantly bridged over by an involved orchestral playing under the excellent and versatile Dennis Russell Davies and an engaged Toltec singing by the Linz Opera Chorus.
If you are a bit bored by the monotony in Glass's compositions, you will maybe find no exciting ringing in this symphony. But if you are charmed by this Toltec search for wisdom and truth, you will, I bet, find in this New Age-ish composition a continual companion into the realm of harmony and insight.