glass

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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