Glass, P: In the Upper Room
This page lists all recordings of In the Upper Room, by Philip Glass (b.1937) on CD.
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Glass, P: In the Upper Room
Choreography by Twyla Tharp
Commissioned by the Twyla Tharp Foundation
In the Upper Room is a dance/theatre collaboration between choreographer Twyla Tharp and composer Philip Glass. This new recording marks the first complete musical document of the 1986 ballet. The first recording of the work, released on Sony’s Philip Glass “Dance Pieces,” presented only five of the nine movements of the work.
In approaching this Orange Mountain Music release, the producers examined the original recording and it was revealed that the engineers of that record, heavily reinforced the acoustic instruments (including strings, brass, and woodwinds) with synthesized tracks. This was done presumably to artificially thicken the orchestral sound. It was decided to make this new recording using only acoustic instruments as it was meant to be heard with the additional goal of presenting all the movements, I-XI for a complete recording of In the Upper Room.
“Slightly over half the dances which Glass wrote for choreographer Twyla Tharp's In the UpperRoom in 1986 were issued by CBS a year later under the title Dance Pieces, but this disc presents the complete cycle for the first time.
Comparing the two recordings makes for an interesting exercise in minimalist performance practice. When Dance Pieces was released, the trend was towards layering electronically manipulated and treated sounds over acoustic instruments to impart a more polished sheen to Glass's music. The result was clinical and, one suspects, driven at the time by corporate pressures to make the music as commercial as possible.
Twenty years later, and Glass has decided to revisit the original masters in order to try to recapture the live sound which accompanied the original ballet production.
There is certainly more warmth and depth here, with the ebullient, processional Dance IX benefiting in particular from a more three-dimensional sonic facelift. At the same time the reinstated dances do little to supplement any perceived deficit in the abridged version, or the need to restore some kind of cyclic unity to the work. The disc's highlight, Dance VIII, with its haunting, fragile piano figure is already present in the original version, as are most of the weightier, more extended movements. The 'missing' dances are on the whole short and somewhat transitional in nature. All this adds further weight to the fact that there were sound reasons for leaving them out in the first place, although Glass aficionados will no doubt be glad to receive the complete set.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
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