Search - Philip Glass, Dennis Russell Davies, Denyce Graves :: Philip Glass/Robert Wilson - the CIVIL warS, a tree is the best measured when it is down

Philip Glass/Robert Wilson - the CIVIL warS,  a tree is the best measured when it is down
Philip Glass, Dennis Russell Davies, Denyce Graves
Philip Glass/Robert Wilson - the CIVIL warS, a tree is the best measured when it is down
Genres: Dance & Electronic, World Music, Jazz, Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (4) - Disc #1

Philip Glass's breakthrough achievement in 1976 with Einstein on the Beach proved a milestone in contemporary opera, and Glass has been remarkably prolific--as well as uneven--in his various mutations of the genre ever sin...  more »

      

CD Details


Synopsis

Amazon.com
Philip Glass's breakthrough achievement in 1976 with Einstein on the Beach proved a milestone in contemporary opera, and Glass has been remarkably prolific--as well as uneven--in his various mutations of the genre ever since. This is the premier recording of one of Glass's more "operatic" ventures. The "Rome Section" is the fifth, final act of the CIVIL warS, originally conceived by Einstein director-designer Robert Wilson for the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles as a multinational collaboration on themes of war and peace. Wilson's trademark theater of images--as opposed to narrative--took its inspiration from Matthew Brady's grimly eloquent photographs of the American Civil War and mixes figures from classical mythology with iconic representations of Abraham Lincoln and his wife, Robert E. Lee, and the Italian revolutionary Garibaldi. The familiar repetitive patterns of Glass's music here play a crucial role in integrating and connecting the text's dream-like montage of material: Seneca's tragedies, Hopi ritual, war narratives, and stream-of-consciousness monologues (narrated by Wilson and Laurie Anderson). Glass calls for high-flying, lush vocalism that at first sounds like a parody of operatic extremes, but over time its sustained emotional pitch creates a mesmerizing effect. The scoring is imaginative and garbs the composer's rhythmic cells and churning major-minor arpeggios in rich colors, with a particularly elegiac prominence given to trumpet and trombone. Dennis Russell Davies balances the large forces here--including some beautifully fluent choral writing--with a sweeping confidence that makes a kind of orchestral counterpart to the famous unanimity of Glass's own touring ensemble. Although the opera's total effect can truly be appreciated only in a full staging, this is an important document of Glass's ongoing experiments in music theater. --Thomas May
 

CD Reviews

The finest Glass of all.
Christina Brooks | Sydney, N.S.W Australia | 02/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I first encountered Philip Glass when I saw a trailer for the film "Koyannisqatsi" years and years ago, at the Vallhalla Theatre in Sydney, Australia. I was like a rabbit in the headlights when the first notes of the organ struck. To a large extent, nothing has changed since then. I still listen to everything the man produces but take rather a lot of care to not let minutae and pedantry get in the way of the impact of the music. In this way, I suppose, I prefer "Akhnaten" to "Music In Twelve Parts" and "Einstein on the Beach" to "1000 Aeroplanes on the Roof." Now that you have a clue where I am coming from...

I think that "The Civil Wars" is easily the best thing that Philip Glass has ever made. It has the emotional impact of "Akhnaten" and "Einstein" the philosophy behind "Satyagraha" and the music is consistently as beautiful as the best parts of those operas, but is condensed into an astonishingly short (chronological) time frame. By this I mean that I will happily listen to "CIvil Wars" right through, in one sitting, and find when it finishes that I feel like I have been away from my life for weeks or months and that I have learnt things that I will never be able to put into words.

To say that i think that it is "good" would be a thorough-going understatement. I laugh out loud occasionally during it and usually, at other points, I cry. I have listened to it about once a month every month or so since 1999 and I would be hard put to tell you which bits are "funny" or why I cry. The music is like a dream, which enfolds me while I listen to it, and then fades as normal life reasserts itself.

As far as I am concerned, this is the best of all Philip Glass' works and that means that while it is definitely not for everyone, it is the best, of the very, very, best."
Stunning, amazing
R. Glover | Loveland, OH USA | 10/28/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I am not a musician so I can't explain in technical terms why I love this CD but, of the 40 plus Philip Glass CDs I have, this instantly became one of my top 2 or 3 favorites. I have enjoyed PG's music for many years and as an assemblage sculptor, I love to listen to his music when I work. After the first track, I said to myself "That's just the beginning! That could be a whole work in itself." The second track explodes with power and passion. Amazing. Stunning. Explosive. Abstract. Wonderful to get lost in. The singing voices are breathtaking. I'm sure an onlooker would think I was batty if they saw me in the studio listening to this cranked at full volume with headphones on. It's impossible not to pretend to sing along in Italian and play conductor at the same time.
I hope this is in the juke box in heaven."
Hypnotic...mesmerizing
mludwig@alltel.net | North Carolina | 09/15/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The indomitable Philip Glass impresses me once again with an "oldie" that I had not heretofore heard. I have enjoyed his work from the first time I ever heard his records ("Koyaanisqatsi") to the two performances I have seen live ("La Belle et La Bete," "Monsters of Grace"). His latest release on Nonesusch Records, "CIVIL warS," is comparable to much of his other concept-operas. Avant-garde a-la "Einstein on the Beach" yet rich in texture like "Itaipu," this record grabs you by the neck and commands further listening. Hurrah, Mr. Glass, your work continues to intrigue me."