Label: Orange Mountain Music
Release date: 2004
Orion was commissioned for the 2004 Athens Cultural Olympiad. Composer Philip Glass's desire was to create a "truly multi cultural, international music work." Those familiar with Glass's music will have an idea about what to expect minimalist motifs repeated over and over, subtly changing both rhythmically and harmonically. But this 90 minute work devotes each of its nine sections to a particular nation: one each to Brazil, Canada, Australia, India, China, The Gambia, and Greece and three in combination. Glass uses instruments indigenous to each country, giving the work a terrific array of colors and flavors. The dark gruntings of the didgeridoo are made even more effective when contrasted with the dainty Chinese pipa, a sort-of cross between the lute and mandolin; the sounds of Nova Scotian fiddler Ashley MacIsaac are sharp edged and folksy; and there is a duet for high wind instrument and sitar. The finale is a Greek song with all the instrumentalists chiming in. "Orion" seems somewhat formless it's not a concerto or symphony but its series of movements have great beauty and tonal diversity and keep the ear fascinated. Highly recommended.
Personnel: Philip Glass (keyboards), Eleftheria Arvanitaki, Lisa Bielawa (vocals), Foday Musa Suso (kora), Wu Man (pipa); Gaurav Mazumdar (sitar), Ashley MacIsaac (violin); Andrew Sterman (flute, piccolo); Mark Atkins (didjeridu), Richard Peck (tenor saxophone), Ted Baker, Michael Riesman (keyboards), Frank Cassara (percussion).
2. Interlude: Australia & China
5. Interlude: Canada & The Gambia
6. The Gambia
8. Interlude: Brazil & India
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