Beach Body

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This week on the New Canon, we celebrate the return of Einstein on the Beach to the Brooklyn Academy of Music with a listen to the opera's 1984 recording, recently reissued in highlights form on Orange Mountain Music. 

There's something religious about the opening chords of Einstein, and to that end it's no surprise that Glass's opera (his first, written in collaboration with theatrical iconoclast Robert Wilson) has generated a cult-like following. And while a fresh crop of musicians—not to mention some familiar faces—descending upon BAM this month to relive the work for the first time in 20 years, there's a quality that leaves the work's initial recording disarmingly timeless, meditative, galvanizing, and soothing.

The opera may be four-and-a-half intermissionless hours, but Orange Mountain Music (Glass's own label) has fashioned a palatable 77-minute reduction of the recording and it's this excerpted version that we focus on this week. Consider it an amuse-bouche for the main course later this week, or a dessert following last week's Q2 Music/Philip Glass festival, Music of Constant Change.