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Philip Glass: Leonard Cohen & "Book of Longing"

img  Tobias

"I wanted to hear his side of the conversation and that’s what has been so interesting for me personally”, Cohen told Canadian daily “The Chronical Journal”, “This is a delight, a very private delight that other people unfortunately can’t have ... Listening to what Phil has done provided me a very, very special and rarefied kind of pleasure. And it was on the basis of that selfish appetite that I really stayed out of the whole enterprise." In turn, the endeavour was a return to his personal roots for Glass, who frequently used discarded song texts by artists such as Suzanne Vega in the past as a starting point for his compositions. The project is therefore also about the power of music and poetry, the two strongest languages in the world according to him.

What differentiates the musical version of “Book of Longing” from similar cross-over projects is the integrated and coherent flow of the event. Instead of a loose collection of songs, the evening consists of a single piece without intermissions and running through several themes. While the New York audience will have to wait just a little bit longer, the first few (festival-)performances have had mixed reactions. The Star called it “a confusing hybrid” and “clumsy” and thought it too musical to be a literary event and too focused on the words to consitute a true musical happening. The Charleston Post and Courier, meanwhile, recommended it – though probably for all the wrong reasons and using a bitterly oldfashioned definition of “high arts”.

It will as always be interesting to see how the Lincoln Arts Centre performance goes down for a better estimation – after all, this wouldn’t be the first Philip Glass work to be criticised before turning into a Classic.

Homepage: Philip Glass
Homepage: Philip Glass at Pomegranate Arts
Homepage: Leonard Cohen
Homepage: Book of Longing Homepage
Homepage: Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Source: Charleston Post and Courier
Source: The
Source: The Chronicle Journal

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