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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 Glassís Complete Piano Etudes, this album features the core of Glassís 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. Ė Washington Post

Album Credits:
Recorded 2018Ė2019 at Steinway Hall, New York City.
Producer: Jon Feidner
Engineer: Lauren Sclafani
Assistant Engineer: Melody Nieun Hwang
Editing: Renée Oakford
Production Assistant: Renée Oakford
Mixing and Mastering: Daniel Shores

Executive Producers: Eric Feidner, Jon Feidner
Read more Direction: Jackie Fugere
Design: Cover to Cover Design, Anilda Carrasquillo
Piano Technician: Lauren Sclafani
Piano: Steinway Model D # 607799 (New York)


Jenny Lin is a wonderful champion of contemporary music, but her association with the piano music of Philip Glass is in a special category. Since 2014, Lin has toured with the composer, gaining unique insight into his vision and an authenticity of interpretation. This last point is particularly significant here, because Glass is stereotypically expected to be performed in metronomically precise rhythms and even, or at least terraced, dynamics. Conversely, Linís playing is unusually expressive, inclusive of the use of rhythmic flexibility and graduated dynamic phrasing. It even lends the music a kind of Brahmsian emotional heft, notably in the five movement Metamorphosis, an expansion of material Glass wrote for the soundtrack to the film The Thin Blue Line. Similarly, the earliest work here, Opening, from his debut album in 1982, also recalls an historical model under Linís hands, which render the music as a kind of modern-day Baroque dance. Without doubt, we will hear future collaborations between Glass and his keyboard music, but for now, this is an important compilation of the solo piano music of a modern American musical master. The production values from Steinway & Sons are, as usual, first-rate.

-- Fanfare

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 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 Ė Passacaglia for solo piano.

One look at Ms. Linís 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 Ė 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 ďrather than music to be performed at Carnegie HallĒ 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 ďleaving a doorway open to interpretation Ė if someone does something I like, then Iíll incorporate it into my performancesĒ.

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

-- Brett Allen-Bayes, Limelight (Australia)

I know and love Philip Glassís musicómet him in 1984, wrote a thesis on Einstein on the Beach in 1993, and have been impressed that he always remembers who I am when Iíve seen him over the years. Iíve always felt that his music is extremely expressive, even when it is at its most severely minimal: that it canít simply be rendered by playing the notes, but by adding oneís own feeling and personality. Thatís what pianist Jenny Lin does here. Opening has a sense of yearning that Iíve never heard before. The reading of Modern Love Waltz is a little less free but does manage to give the impression of a certain sly sense of humor. She also gives us the first (I believe) recorded performance of the recent Distant FigureóPassacaglia, pairing it with the wellknown Mad Rush. The two share a number of affinities, but the later work reminds me of recent Glass works in its nostalgic tone (for instance, The Hours). In both these works (as well as Metamorphosis, also included here), Lin shows a deep understanding and love for Glassís music as well as the willingness to do new things with it.

-- American Record Guide Read less