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Philip Glass: Piano Works / Jenny Lin

Release Date: 06/05/2020
Label: Steinway & Sons Catalog #: 30127
Composer:  Philip Glass Performer:  Jenny Lin Number of Discs: 1

Following Jenny Lin's much acclaimed recording of Glass’s Complete Piano Etudes, this album features the core of Glass’s best known works for piano.

Jenny Lin is a pianist of the first rank who commands an enviably economical technique and a silvery singing sound that propels music directly to the heart. – Washington Post

R E V I E W S:

Pianist Jenny Lin has recorded a great diversity of piano music over the years, but in mid-career, she seems to have emerged as a champion of Philip Glass, touring with the composer and making several recordings. The keyboard music of Glass has never been a terribly common facet of his output, which seems to require the sensory envelopment of large forms, but
Read more Lin does it justice. The result here is an attractive sampling, following on the grand success of her performances of the composer's Etudes, and beautifully recorded by her label, Steinway & Sons. She is sensitive to the development of Glass' musical language, seemingly entering into the composer's mind as he pushed and pulled at his basic minimalist arpeggiations. The pieces here range chronologically from 1979 (Mad Rush, written for an appearance by the Dalai Lama in New York) to 2017 (Distant Figure -- Passacaglia for solo piano), with the centerpiece being Metamorphosis. This five-movement work was abstracted and arranged by Glass from his music for the 1988 film The Thin Blue Line, and it's an effective suite that builds from simple textures to syncopations and big dramatic gestures of the kind Glass was beginning to develop at the time. Nowhere is the music technically difficult, but to bring it to life is not simple, and that's what Lin accomplishes here.

-- AllMusic Guide

Pianist Jenny Lin has had much success recording 20th-century piano music for a number of fine labels, with composers ranging from Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Schnabel to a number of contemporary Americans. No stranger to the works of Philip Glass, she has already recorded the Complete Etudes for the Steinway & Sons label after having presented a whole series of them live. This new disc presents a cross-section of his best-known works as well as the recent Distant Figure – Passacaglia for solo piano.

One look at Ms. Lin’s discography confirms her formidable technique and specialisation in this repertoire and listening to this disc places her amongst the finest interpreters of Glass that we have – one as fine as Olafsson on DG. In a fine Youtube video, Glass is found in conversation with Lin where he describes his piano music as intimate music “rather than music to be performed at Carnegie Hall” and that tempi are deliberately not set. This, explains the composer, allows pianists of different levels of ability to play his music and also to play them differently “leaving a doorway open to interpretation – if someone does something I like, then I’ll incorporate it into my performances”.

Many familiar pieces are here (Mad Rush and the Metamorphoses familiar from the soundtrack to The Thin Blue Line and the composer’s own earlier Sony recordings and live performances. Recorded in warm sound, these will appeal to Glass fans – both the dilettante and the heavily attenuated.

-- Brett Allen-Bayes, Limelight (Australia)
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