Listen: Unreleased Philip Glass Mixtape

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For this week's mixtape, Richard Guerin of Philip Glass's Orange Mountain Music label culls an hour of unreleased Glass, from a four-guitar arrangement of the composer's String Quartet No. 3 to a student work from his days with Nadia Boulanger to a sneak peek at his Symphony No. 10.

I started working for Philip Glass’s record label Orange Mountain Music six and a half years ago in January 2006 weeks after the premiere of his Eighth Symphony at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. In 2001, OMM had been started by artist Don Christensen with Glass’s long-time producer Kurt Munkacsi and Philip Glass. The idea at the beginning had been simply to release some archival material that was interesting and good but somehow got left along the side of the road during the trajectory of Glass’s recording career. 

Glass had had record labels before — but nothing really like OMM. For the fledgling company the first few releases drawn from the archives, "Candyman" and "Early Voice," had success and created an unanticipated cash flow that soon enough made enough money to finance new recordings like the "Etudes for Solo Piano." The whole thing snowballed and by the time the company turned five years old, it had enough money to hire me as its first full time person.

Unlike his past labels that wanted Glass to do one big marketable release every year, we soon found ourselves releasing up to fifteen albums a year.  There was such an incredible backlog of unreleased music (there still is, everything from early works like Talking Piece, Play, and Music in Eight Parts to recent works like Symphony No.10 and Overture for 2012) that we can hope someday to document the entirety of Glass’s compositional output. After over 80 releases, we are making headway.

When I was asked to create this “Unreleased Glass” playlist, I immediately thought of all the great things that OMM has in the pipeline. At our capacity, we can release one release per month (though we have five releases in September 2012). As such, we have well over two years of releases already recorded just waiting to be released. And during those next two years of releasing music we will hopefully take on three more years of projects. 

So this list is a bit of relief from the frustration of how long it takes for these records to come out, but it remains only the tip of the iceberg. 


Playlist: "Unreleased Glass"

Note: Since there’s no way to present such a variety of unreleased things in a one hour playlist, I mostly limited myself to highlights from forthcoming releases with only one or two archive things which are years away from release – if ever they do find their way into the public realm.

1. Web Logo: a track that Glass composed back in the 1990s for a website called “GlassPages” which was a great early resource for fans created by Jose Jimenez Mesa. At 20 seconds perhaps the shortest self-contained piece Glass ever composed.

2.Dublin Guitar Quartet - String Quartet No.3 “Mishima” – Movement I (transcribed for guitar quartet): From a forthcoming OMM record by the Dublin Guitar Quartet of all the Glass String Quartets played by guitars. Glass had interacted with this group in Ireland a couple years ago, but basically we discovered these guys on Youtube and jumped on immediately making a record with them. I can’t describe how excited I am about this album:

3. My Great Ghost - 12 Parts – Part 1: as part of the highly anticipated album REWORK_Philip Glass remixed which features contributions from Beck, Tyondai Braxton, Amon Tobin, Cornelius, Dan Deacon, Johann Johannsson and more. Due out on October 23.

4. "Tara Hugo sings the Philip Glass Songbook": Always Neverwas: from an album from OMM coming out in November by singer Tara Hugo. Hugo has recorded songs from the Philip Glass songbook including never released material like Planctus (Philip Glass/Natalie Merchant), “classics” like A Sip of Wine (Glass/Leonard Cohen) and Streets of Berlin (Philip Glass/Mick Jagger), and new songs like Always Neverwas which is based on a melody which Glass wrote for the film Neverwas, with lyrics by Tara Hugo and arrangements by Trevor Gureckis.

5. Michael Riesman/Mark Atkins - Voices for Didgeridoo and Organ: Also a forthcoming pipe organ record from OMM of the complete never-before-heard piece, Voices for Didgeridoo & Organ plus new suite of organ transcriptions of Glass’s music by organist Michael Riesman

6. Cello Concerto No.2 “Naqoyqatsi” – Movement IV “Intensive Time: Cellist Matt Haimovitz premiered this new work in spring 2012 with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and conductor Dennis Russell Davies during Glass’s time there as Composer-in-Residence. This work, largely based on Glass’s 2001 film score, was arranged especially to be a concert work. (Spring 2012 on OMM.)

7. Secret Window – End Credits (arr. Riesman): This is one of many pieces from Michael Riesman’s album of Glass’s film music arranged for solo piano (Glass Soundtracks) which didn’t make the final album. Secret Window stars Johnny Depp and is based on a story by Stephen King. The original soundtrack was never released, so this arrangement could be the only Glass music anyone hears from that film for a very long time

8. Tim Fain - Partita for Solo Violin – Chaconne, Part 1: This performance is taken from a 2012 performance of the work at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. Glass composed the eight-movement 33-minute work for violinist Tim Fain in 2010-11 as a natural extension of the work they had been doing together for the past few years. Tim Fain is a remarkably gifted violinist. While this is a live performance – we plan on getting Tim in the studio in the near future to capture this fantastic piece.

9. Opening from O Apostolo: a forthcoming film soundtrack on OMM.  O Apostolo is a stop-animation Spanish film that will receive its theatrical release this fall and next spring. OMM will release the soundtrack on iTunes in September/October 2012. There are actually three composers on the film soundtrack, this is one of the Glass tracks.

10. Tim Fain & Wendy Sutter -  Duet No.1a for Violin and Cello: This is an interesting oddity. In 2009-10 Glass composed a Double Concerto for Violin and Cello, which like in his second violin concerto, he composed pieces which preceded each movement, which could then later be extracted and played as chamber pieces. For the Double Concerto, there were four duets. Glass wanted to add a fifth for the chamber piece Duos Nos. 1-5 – it would be a piece that would be played between Duet No. 1 and Duet No. 2. So this piece is Duet No. 1a.

11.  String Quartet (1959) (excerpt): Glass became the Glass that we know starting with the music he began to write after his encounters with Nadia Boulanger and Ravi Shankar in France in the mid-1960s. While his early works, juvenilia, interest a lot of fans, that music does not interest Glass much. A few pieces have surfaced, but this excerpt comes from a string quartet which he wrote 53 years ago which languish in the Juilliard warehouse for decades. Glass made this recording in 1959 while a student at the Juilliard School. As with his other Pre-France music, this style fits into his the sort of Mid-20th Century Americana that was popular at the time. Much less is known of the self-taught dodecaphonic music that Glass was writing by himself while a teenage student at the University of Chicago.

12.   Los Angeles Philharmonic, John Adams conductor - Symphony No.9 – Movement I:  flash forward 50 years and the composer, now in his 70s has come face to face with tradition and is writing his Ninth Symphony. OMM had a huge hit with Symphony No. 9 being released on iTunes on Glass’s 75th birthday, the same day as the US premiere of the work at Carnegie Hall. The record hit peaked at No. 15 on the Pop Charts, and stayed at No. 1 on the Classical chart for weeks. We’re talking about a 52-minute symphony by a living composer on the Pop Charts! The Los Angeles Philharmonic, one of the commissioners of the piece, performed the West Coast premiere in April. The added star attraction was super-musician-composer John Adams. History says be wary of composer/conductors, but I have to say I was bowled over by Adams’s interpretation. The dynamic LA Philharmonic and Adams were gracious enough to let that interpretation be heard on this playlist.

13.  Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, Marin Alsop, conductor - Symphony No. 10, Movement V “Black & White Scherzo” (Excerpt): And we go out with a sneak-peak at Symphony No.10. Glass in no mood to tempt to linger on No.9 and who can blame him. This recording is from the world premiere performance by the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, conducted by Marin Alsop, August 5, 2011. The work was written, and gifted by the composer, in celebration of Marin Alsop's 20th Anniversary as Music Director of the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, Santa Cruz, California. It exists as the final movement of Symphony No. 10 that was premiered in August 2012 in Aix-en-Provence, France.