GLASS / WILSON, "THE CIVIL WARS"
Actually, the full titleis the CIVIL warS: a tree is best measured when it is down, but who'sgoing to read an article with such a lengthy tagline? And yes, I knowthat perhaps some of you are thinking that it's quite a lengthy titlefor someone who pioneered the concept of minimalism, but this disc isanything but that.The fifth movement of an opera to be performed inthe mid-80s, Glass' section (other composers were responsible for theremaining sections) was one of the few that actually surfaced, and hasfinally been captured here on disc for the first time. The "Romesection," as this fifth movement is called is Glass at his mostexpansive, without any of the redundant musical syncopations that he isknown for. Yes, there are the rapidly shifting chords and mechanicalrhythms of his soundtrack pieces, but Glass utilizes the voice to itsutmost. It's as if he took the Rome section to heart, studying theworks of Verdi and Puccini and fusing their style with his signaturesound. The fact that the title is the CIVIL warS and not the CIVIL waris a conscious one made by Robert Wilson, the opera's visionary andlibrettist. In the liner notes to the album, David Wright notes themultitude of nations and cultures represented within the opera, showingnot only the many nations of the world, but also their "warS." One ofmy favorite Glass pieces, I would easily recommend this to anyone as anintroduction to one of the most important composers of the late-20thcentury. And to a friend who recently commented on Glass and hisminimalist contemporaries as being "new age," I would happily ask himto listen to this and then try to compare it to any of the equallyhorrible Wyndham Hill samplers.