As a show of appreciation to my biggest audience, my American readers, and in anticipation of independence day on the fourth of July, I have decided to dedicate the next few posts to American composers. In my opinion there is no shortage of choice, as there are many great works by both living and deceased American composers. Some of my favourites include: John Adams, George Antheil, Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, John Corigliano, George Gershwin, Philip Glass, Jennifer Higdon, Alan Hovhaness, Charles Ives, Scott Joplin, Cole Porter, Steve Reich and John Williams. There are many others which I am still discovering. So the challenge, as always, is where to start?
On of my favourite pieces as a teenager, and one of my first forays into minimalism, was the violin concerto no.1 by Philip Glass.
Philip Glass (1937) was one of the most influential composers of the late 20th century. He is still extremely productive today and some of his recent work is fantastic. There are not that many recordings of the violin concerto no.1 to choose from, but the few that are available are generally excellent and you can't go wrong with either. My favourite recording is with Robert McDuffie and the Houston Symphony conducted by Christoph Eschenbach.
I bought the score a few months ago in the vain hope of playing bits of the concerto. The score looks deceptively easy, but in reality is way beyond my humble abilities, which makes me appreciate an excellent performance even more.
Below is an really interesting youTube video of a rehearsal with Gidon Kremer and the Oslo Philharmonic conducted by Mariss Janssons, which provides an interesting glimpse into the workings of a concert rehearsal.
Links to the recording (tracks 4-6):