Philip Glass
Metamorphosis I-V, for piano


4.5
superb

Review

by Piglet G. Taylor USER (6 Reviews)
September 29th, 2011 | 32 replies


Release Date: 1988 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Minimalism at it's finest.

The Romantic Era ended with the introduction of different forms of music. Common composers like Edvard Grieg and Antonin Dvorak were being forgotten and in their place, came Modernism, the era of Classical music which is controversial because of all the traits it rejected from its origin. The traditions that grew over centuries from the Baroque, Classical and Romantic eras weren’t a necessity as Contemporary Classical twisted its way through the decades. Late into the 20th Century composers and neoclassical soundtrack artists come into the game. Phillip Glass is probably the best out of all of them. As much as that may seem as an over-statement, I stand by it. I can't think of any other living musician that pulls off minimalistic piano tunes so well and has vast success even in his own field of music. This short and almost tentative collection of compositions displays exactly how he is one of the most triumphant pianists of the 1980’s – 1990’s. Some of his best song structures, emotional depth and experimentation are exhibited evenly over these 5 beautiful pieces of musical prowess.

Philip Glass attends his work on the piano like a magician with a coin. Although it may not be as flowery or astronomic in musical terms, it conjures up very vivid imagery. You could easily close your own eyes for half an hour whilst listening to this and picture rain gently trickling against the windows of monolithic skyscrapers, separated by black chasms and a swarm of people. It’s seemingly repetitive chords lightly tapped and indignantly hit over and over respectively join together like a giant foreboding mechanism. These compositions are hardly songs but a series of minimalistic harmonies fluctuated with each other like ligaments and bones. Surprisingly, they aren’t vague as you would like to think. Instead, they are engaging in a dark, omnipresent manner. The latter of the five compositions highlight this with distinction. There is a concept to this collection of songs, albeit one that is often interpreted differently. It supposedly depicts a plant’s existence and the phases it goes through, its very first days of germination to its gradual withering death. The album envisions this concept flawlessly to the point where you feel the piano is gently whispering you the chemistry of the metamorphoses with nothing but notes. Philip Glass orchestrates his concept with emotional depth by stringing together peaceful bridges to be broken down by vigorous patter. Even so, this sleight of hand is held back by the incoherent arrangement at times.

It would be far-fetched to call this album haunting, but it does entail that effect in a Phillipy Glassy kind of way. This isn’t anything particularly new in his catalogue either; you’ll find a lot of Glassworks has the same tonal structure to it. However it is enjoyable to listen to with a calm centred mind and sometimes, that is all you really need. This collection suits the hardships and recompenses of life with nothing more than its concept which is quite rare, especially in an album devoted to the Piano. Despite its repetitiveness and perhaps monotonous sound to some, it is as beautiful as you can get in music. Philip Glass hit a fine key or several when he made this, if that wasn’t already apparent.



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user ratings (43)
Chart.
4.2
excellent
other reviews of this album
Jake C. Taylor (4)
Metamorphosis is simple, yet haunting, stirring, and emotional, blending elements of Glass' minimal ...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Piglet
September 29th 2011


4659 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I did this as a last minute kind of thing, but I was in a mood to write a review.

liledman
September 29th 2011


3826 Comments


Classical music, as a genre, has quieted down from the turn of the last century simply because other types of music have stepped up. Nowadays, you have the silliest types of music, like ska; a whole Jamaican bobsled team with a collective of animal skins to bang sticks on. And yet classical music lives on, sublimely, with the collective of soundtrack artists and a large number of underground composers.


firstly, classical is a fairly broad term; it has been an evolving style for a long time. i would say the main reason it quieted down, or lost popularity, was because of the way it splintered off into different factions and went in radical directions around the turn of the twentieth-century. people then turned to 'entertainment music' more and more because it was easier to digest.

why have a crack at ska, of all genres? you sound like an idiot trying to work in a cool runnings joke (because bobsleds and minimalism have so much in common).

as for classical music 'living on sublimely', i think the soundtrack artists a lot of times are just watered down neo-classical styles, only popular because of the given films' popularity. the fact that in the popular spectrum, classical music has become 'film music', is hardly sublime. the underground artists do way more for the art form.

other than the intro, the review is alright i guess.

liledman
September 29th 2011


3826 Comments


ok

Piglet
September 29th 2011


4659 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yeah man, i wrote that intro about 6 months ago on my blog. It didn't really suit the review, but i stuck it in anyway. like i said, it was a last minute kind of thing. I didn't even take that paragraph seriously myself, i didn't think anyone else would either.

liledman
September 29th 2011


3826 Comments


you could cut out all that i quoted and just start with 'Philip Glass is the best twentieth-century composer... as much as that seems...' and it would be a lot better, you dont need the other stuff.

Piglet
September 29th 2011


4659 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'll work on a better intro, don't worry hahah
thanks for the feedback, it's always helpful to get concrete opinions on your own writing

taylormemer
September 29th 2011


4917 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You gotta be real careful with some of the generalisations here, like best pianist etc cause you're gonna ruffle a lot of feathers.

I personally love this, as you know and love playing it when I'm not trying to learn Bax or something else more technically demanding. I'm gonna review his etudes soon hopefully because those are just wonderful.

Piglet
September 29th 2011


4659 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Well in any case, I think he's one of the best minimalist pianists of late. I think that's a fair claim, seeing as there aren't too many around.

Yeah, you would always play Philip Glass and I never really caught onto why. After listening to Einstein on the Beach, Glassworks and this I kind of understand.
I haven't gotten around to his etudes yet, you have fun reviewing them.

taylormemer
September 29th 2011


4917 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

These are pretty pieces, but his etudes are much more strident and involving.

Piglet
September 29th 2011


4659 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Sounds lovely, I'll get around to them.

liledman
September 29th 2011


3826 Comments


should review some schnittke ;)

Yotimi
September 29th 2011


6523 Comments


If this is anywhere close to Koyaanisqatsi I should love this

Piglet
September 29th 2011


4659 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

even though it isn't like Koyaanisqatsi all that much, I still highly recommend it.

taylormemer
September 29th 2011


4917 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"should review some schnittke ;)"

In time, hopefully.

And yeah, Koyaanisqatsi and this share similarities, but the instrumentation is of course different.

vanderb0b
September 29th 2011


3473 Comments


There are a bunch of little errors/awkard phrases in your review, such as:

The era of Classical music which is controversial because of all the traits it rejected from its origin.

Not a complete sentence.
Late into the 20th Century is where composers and neoclassical soundtrack artists come into the game.

"is where" sounds really strange in reference to a time. Try rephrasing as "Late into the 20th century, composers and neoclassical...."
it’s very first days

*its
I'm not trying to nitpick, but things like this really make the review harder to read and make you sound less credible than you are.
should review some schnittke ;)

In all honesty, that would be awesome, Schnittke really needs more recognition. I've actually been working on a review of one of his works for a couple weeks.

taylormemer
September 29th 2011


4917 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Which one have you been writing about?

vanderb0b
September 29th 2011


3473 Comments


I've been writing about the Gogol Suite. Its one of his more accessible and less dissonant works, so I wanted to start there. I'm hoping to do some of the symphonies and a string trio later, though.

taylormemer
September 29th 2011


4917 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ah yes, I though that was going to be the piece you'd say. Good luck then.

liledman
September 29th 2011


3826 Comments


yeah i would have a crack at his first symphony if anything; plenty to write about.

i should just do some more reviews.

qwe3
September 29th 2011


21362 Comments


i think the soundtrack artists a lot of times are just watered down neo-classical styles, only popular because of the given films' popularity.




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