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Symphony No. 2

News & Reviews

  • Philip Glass, Robert Wilson's "Einstein on the Beach" Makes West Coast Debut with Three Sold-Out Berkeley Performances

    Philip Glass and Robert Wilson's groundbreaking opera Einstein on the Beach receives its West Coast premiere, nearly four decades after it was first performed, with three sold-out performances at Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall this weekend. PBS Newshour marked the occasion with a look at this groundbreaking work and the career of its composer, which you can watch here. This weekend's performances of Einstein on the Beach are part of a major international tour that heads next to Mexico City, Amsterdam, and Hong Kong.

  • Philip Glass, Robert Wilson's "Einstein on the Beach" Returns to NYC with Eight Performances at BAM

    Philip Glass and Robert Wilson's Einstein on the Beach, widely credited as one of the greatest artistic achievements of the 20th century, launched its creators to international success when it was first produced in Avignon, France, in 1976. Now, 20 years since its last production, as part of an international tour, Einstein on the Beach returns to New York with eight performances at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), tonight through September 23.

About this Album

Three new works by Philip Glass received their first recordings on this Nonesuch recording, all of them conducted by the composer’s long-time advocate Dennis Russell Davies. Symphony No. 2, performed here by the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, is a study in polytonality. In his notes to the recording, Glass writes, “I’ve been interested in polytonal music for some time, starting with Akhnaten ... The great experiments of polytonality carried out in the 1930s and '40s show that there’s still a lot of work to be done in that area. Harmonic language and melodic language can coexist closely or at some calculated distance, and their relationship can be worked out in terms of either coexisting harmonies or ambiguous harmonies. We’re not talking about inventing a new language, but rather inventing new perceptions of existing languages.” Symphony No. 2 was commissioned by the Brooklyn Academy of Music and was premiered on October 15, 1994.

The Concerto for Saxophone Quartet, surely one of the few such works of its kind, is a four-movement piece performed by the Raschèr Quartet and the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, in which each movement features a different member of the quartet. The Raschèr Quartet has played the concerto with more than 30 European and American orchestras, making this piece one of Glass’s most widely performed orchestral works. Originally composed for the Raschèr, this work received its premiere on July 27, 1995.

The “Orphée” interlude is drawn from the first opera of Glass’s Cocteau trilogy, which includes the composer’s popular La Belle et La Bête, and dates from 1993. This two-act chamber opera was commissioned by the American Repertory Theater in Boston and had its premiere on May 14, 1993. The instrumental section presented here accompanies Orphée’s return to his home from the world of the dead in Act II.


Dennis Russell Davies, conductor
Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra (1-3)
Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra (4)
Rascher Saxophone Quartet (5-8): Carina Rascher, soprano saxophone; Bruce Weinberger, tenor saxophone; Harry Kinross, alto saxophone; Kenneth Coon, baritone saxophone
Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra (5-8)

Produced by Michael Riesman for Euphorbia Productions, Ltd.

Symphony No. 2
Recorded September 1996 at the Austrian Broadcasting (ORF) Studios, Vienna
Engineer: Anton Reininger
Assistant Engineers: Robert Pavlecka, Stefan Lainer

Interlude from Orphée and Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Orchestra
Recorded October 1996 at Liederkranzhalle, Stuttgart-Botnag
Engineer: Roland Ruble, Sudwest-Tonstudio
Assistant Engineer: Wolfgang Mittermaier

Mixed at the Looking Glass Studios, New York
Engineer: Martin Czembor
Assistant Engineer: Ryoji Hata

Music Published by Dunvagen Music Publishers, Inc. (ASCAP)

Design by Frank Olinsky
Cover photo: White House Ruin, Canyon de Chelly, Arizona by William Clift

Executive Producer: Kurt Munkacsi

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