PHILIP GLASS (b.1937): Book of Longing.
Catalogue Number: 01J088
Label: Orange Mountain Music
Reference: OMM 0043
Description: A collaborative work between Glass and Leonard Cohen, performed live as a multimedia work. Glass has worked with established songwriters from different musical disciplines before, notably on Songs from Liquid Days, but this latest venture (from last year) is noteworthy for its scale and narrative consistency. Whatever its musical context Cohen's sophisticated vernacular poetry - somewhat in the tradition of Whitman and Ginsberg - makes its own music, his slyly oblique yet sometimes painfully direct meditations on life, love, sex, religion and death always pithily presented, with economy of language and subtle humor. In the past decade or so Glass has become so committed to recycling that one wonders whether he should have been offered a share of Al Gore's Nobel Prize; if you have a representative collection of the Ensemble sets from the 1980s - 1000 Airplanes, The Photographer, North Star, Glassworks, the Mishima soundtrack, etc. - you already have much of the musical material, but it has seldom been put to as good use as here. Glass' sensitive application of his familiar gestures - now meditative, now insistent - form an ideal accompaniment to Cohen's unfussy, 'tells it like he sees it' lyrics. Cohen makes several appearances reading a couple of the shorter verses, as Ginsberg did on Hydrogen Jukebox, here framed by surprisingly melodic music of beguiling simplicity; his graphics illustrate the booklet alongside the complete texts. 2 CDs. Leonard Cohen (speaker), Dominique Plaisant (soprano), Tara Hugo (mezzo), Will Erat (tenor), Daniel Keeling (bass-bartione), instrumental soloists.