Was this Philip Glass’s response to Gruppen?

Was this Philip Glass’s response to Gruppen?


norman lebrecht

February 18, 2018

Paul Pelkonen has attended the first New York performance in 38 years of Music With Changing Parts.

From his review:

This was the New York premiere of the revised version of Mr. Glass’ score, a work that was written  five years before Glass and Robert Wilson detonated Einstein on the Beach. It stands alone in the vast Glass catalogue. Its uniqueness is in that it allows its performers some leeway for improvisation, and its length in performance can range between sixty and ninety minutes. (Friday night’s performance ran just over an hour and a half.)

Although there was room for improvisation, the three groups onstage (the Philip Glass Ensemble, the San Francisco Girls’ Chorus and students from the San Fransisco Conservatory of Music) were still confined to the trademark Glass technique of small melodic cells, built rapidly atop each other to generate its vast structure. The technique results in something with the size and weight of Stonehenge, if that monument were made from grains of sand….

Read on here.



  • John Borstlap says:

    Obviously this work is for people who like the sophistication of Stonehenge:


    How do you write such thing? You devise simple fragments that have an irregularity somewhere, put them in different layers, and use the repetition sign – very very often. So, it is not difficult.

    • David R Osborne says:

      I’ll tell you what though, really difficult or near impossible to play. Why not use a sequencer? The musical result would be probably better and it would save getting reported to the RSPCM. It must be said that these musicians do an amazing job but why bother? Take a minute to skip through a few spots and you’ve got it. Unimaginative, formulaic, self important, self indulgent and utterly tedious.

  • Scotty says:

    I happen to like this piece. But what does it have to do with Gruppen? If it’s a response to anything, that thing is Steve Reich’s Music for Eighteen Musicians.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Probably the idea is that Glass wrote the notes that Stock carefully had left-out. But the result may be considered comparable.

    • Been Here Before says:

      It’s just a clickbait. Probably not enough clicks overt the weekend, so NL is trying to stir up a discussion – there were over 80 comments related to the Gruppen post last week if you remember.

    • David R Osborne says:

      Which is quite frankly vastly superior in every way. My vote is with Steve. We definitely don’t need both.

  • boringfileclerk says:

    PG was known for taking the occasional shot at the real composers around him. It wouldn’t be surprising if he intended this to be a comment on the masterpiece that is Gruppen. Nevertheless, I don’t hear the resemblance.