Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Shankar, Glass, Gould: Playlist for Beethoven's Breakfast for February 23, 2009 Mondays at 6:30 am

Ravi Shankar and Philip Glass: Prashanti and Offering from Passages (Private Music Inc.)

What a discovery! They made this CD in 1990, and I just found out about it. It's a true collaboration: some tracks are based on a Glass theme with a Shankar arrangement built around it, and some are the other way around. There are two ensembles, one led by Shankar and one by Glass. Sometimes they play separately and sometimes together. On Offering, for example, the melody is from a Shankar raga but it's played by a saxophone and there is not an Indian instrument in sight.

The notes quote Shankar remembering Paris in 1965 when the very young Glass was a student doing transcription work for a film score that Shankar was recording. Ravi recalls: From the very first moment I saw such interest from him-- he was a young man then-- and he started asking me questions about ragas and talas and started writing down the whole score....and seeing how interested he was I told him everything I could in that short time."

And Glass wrote, "It was possible to graduate from a major Western conservatory...without exposure to music from outside the Western tradition. World music was completely unknown in the mid-60's."

Glenn Gould: Partita No. 4 from Bach: Partitas No. 4, 5, and 6 (Sony)

The notes quote a writer from Bach's time exclaiming that any young pianist could easily make a name for himself by playing this new music by Bach. And some did just that, including, more than 200 years later in the 1950's and 60's, Glenn Gould, Canada's greatest musician.

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