Tim Fain, violonist, plays the “Second Knee Play” from Philip Glass 1976 opera “Einstein on the Beach”


Performed at NYC The Metropolitan Museum of Art

April 2012

“The longest, and in many ways most rewarding, piece on the bill also was the most recent — Chaconne from the Partita for Solo Violin that Glass composed for Fain in 2010. The 20-minute piece is part of a seven-movement suite clearly modeled after the Bach unaccompanied violin sonatas and partitas. Indeed, it is far less beholden to Glass’ trademark repeating melodic cells and undulant arpeggios than it is to linear, neo-baroque propulsiveness.”

“Playing from memory, Fain tore through the furious double stops, rhapsodic melodic flights and other Glassian-Bachian flourishes like a possessed dervish”

“(Then were performed) three selections from the music Glass wrote with the Gambian griot (oral tribal historian) master and composer, Foday Musa Suso, for director JoAnne Akalaitis’ 1989 Guthrie Theatre production of Jean Genet’s final play, “The Screens.” Couched in long-lined violin melody over broken piano chords, the music took on emotional urgency particularly in the slow blues, “The Orchard.””

“Another arrangement for violin and piano, that of a 2010 piano trio piece, “Pendulum,” sent resonant string chords and rapid articulations fanning out across a high-energy landscape lined with bravura flourishes in the piano”

“Three sections from “Metamorphosis” traded in syncopated rhythms, pulsing major-minor chords and, in “Metamorphosis” No. 2, a delicate reimagining of Erik Satie’s “Gymnopedies.” “Wichita Vortex Sutra,” a section from “Hydrogen Jukebox,” Glass’ 1988 collaboration with poet Allen Ginsberg, had the pianist-composer playing live accompaniment to Ginsberg’s recorded recitation of his antiwar verses. “I declare the end of the (Vietnam) war!” shouted the taped poet, in a paroxysm of political and erotic passion.”

“Both Glass and Fain gave themselves solo encores, Glass with “Closing” (from “Glassworks”), Fain with the “Second Knee Play” from the composer’s landmark 1976 opera, “Einstein on the Beach.” The latter, supercharged solo may be the last word in how fast any fiddler can move his bow across the strings of a violin. You had to hear it to believe it. Fain was astonishing.”




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