This is a strange recording. Whatever one thinks of Glass’ music, it has an underlying, almost physical, energy that comes out clearly in every live performance I’ve witnessed or heard in recording. And the combination of one of the leading new music ensembles, Michael Riesman and the friendly confines of Le Poisson Rouge, should be creatively combustible.
But instead, Glassworks is exceedingly cool. The pace is measured, but that’s not a problem, it’s that the playing has a profoundly objective quality to it, the musicians seeming to recede from the stage to let the music take over. But they are still responsible for making the notes and the sounds, and so the subdued feeling is odd. “Facades” has an inherently glacial beauty, but their is an intense focus to the music as well and that is missing, and the glacial quality extends to the rest of the piece. It’s very beautiful sonically, but may leave some feeling of distance.
That being said, the performance of Music in Similar Motion is excellent and has a direct feel and purpose to it. This is one of Glass’ great works, and is both little know and too-little recorded. The CD is worth it for that piece alone, depending on how you feel about money.