Toronto Star: Cincinnati Symphony’s excellent take on Philip Glass’s Cello Concerto No. 2: album review

Symphony Celebrates Spacious-May-09-2001  Philip Glass
May 6, 2013

Matt Haimovitz & Cincinnati Symphony

Philip Glass, Cello Concerto No. 2 (Orange Mountain)

3.5/4 stars

Twelve years ago, star of American minimalist composers Philip Glass composed a soundtrack for an art film: Naqoyqatsi: Life as War. Last season, while working as “Creative Director” with the Cincinnati Symphony, Glass rewrote the score into a 38-minute, seven-movement Cello Concerto No. 2 “Naqoyqatsi” for Montreal-based Matt Haimovitz.

This excellent, compelling album conducted by Dennis Russell Davies comes with the composer’s blessing. It is a must-have for fans of Glass’s repetitive patterns, but also offers fascinating listening for people who don’t already have a taste for this style.


Haimovitz can tease 1,000 shades of tone out of a single stroke of his bow as he gives each movement its own tone — from driving and aggressive to a still near-silence.

Glass carefully alternates tempos and moods so that we hear different aspects of both the cello and orchestra. Some of the more fast-forward stuff, like the sixth movement “Point Blank” is vintage Glass repetition.

But the quieter passages are where the real gold lies. My favourites are the cello serenade masquerading as “Old World” in the fifth movement and the final “The Vivid Unknown,” which contains some of the most hauntingly beautiful solo passages since J.S. Bach’s Cello Suites.

by: John Terauds

Read at: Toronto Star

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