The real Glass—Philip Glass.  I’m listening to the second movement of his first violin concerto, while walking to the bus through a light snowfall on Capitol Hill.  It feels transcendent.  For a few minutes there’s nothing else at all.

The second movement is a passacaglia, a simple and ancient dance form based on a four-note descending scale, rooted in Bach and earlier.  It rhymes with my old favorite, Biber’s Archangel Sonata for solo violin.  The restless binary repetition, layered tempi, and inner darkness in the harmony combine to make this material perfect for Glass, who renders it with the modern emotional intensity of a Rothko.

Rothko - Untitled - Whites Blacks Grays on Maroon - 1963

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