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From the first bittersweet sweep of the Suite from “Bent,” Brooklyn Rider stakes its claim as stunning interpreters of Glass.

07.01.11
Brooklyn Rider
TimeOut Chicago

By Mia Clarke

Brooklyn Rider Plays Philip Glass (Orange Mountain Music)

The hip, three-year-old Brooklyn Rider wasted no time in establishing itself. Violinists Johnny Gandelsman and Colin Jacobsen, violist Nicholas Cords and cellist Eric Jacobsen, former members of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, self-released their first recording, the Persian-tinged Silent City, in 2008. Last year’s Dominant Curve raised the bar with imaginative translations of Debussy, Kojiro Umezaki and Justin Messina.

On its new double album, the young troupe tackles, with a hypnotic, kaleidoscopic attention to detail, the complete string quartets of Philip Glass, who serves as coexecutive producer. With a fondness for repetitive, minimalist structures interlocking with wild gestures and textures, Glass is a brilliant composer for screen. The strongest works on this recording include his scores to Paul Schrader’s Mishima, a biopic on seppuku-committing novelist Yukio Mishima, and to Sean Mathias’s 1997 flick, Bent, in which Clive Owen starred as a homosexual in Nazi Germany. Both plots give you a sense of the record’s overwhelming elegiac tone.

A beautiful remembrance of artist Paul Buczak (String Quartet No. 4) and String Quartet No. 2, derived from incidental music for a dramatization of Samuel Beckett’s novella Company, follow. From the first bittersweet sweep of “Bent,” Rider strikes a melancholy that alternates between spine-tingling and oddly reassuring.