Philip Glass: A Descent into the Maelstrom

Philip Glass: A Descent into the Maelstrom

In 1986, Philip Glass wrote a substantial chamber score for a theatrical adaptation of an Edgar Allen Poe short story. A Descent Into the Maelstrom, set in the Norwegian Arctic, tells of a man’s battle to survive an ocean whirlpool. This new version for full symphony orchestra, voice, and synthesizer, performed stunningly by, appropriately, the Arctic Philharmonic, lends Glass’ music a greater intensity and a fresh appeal. The composer’s hectic arpeggios, keening melodies, and pulsating chords are doubly transfixing in their new guise, Poe’s nightmarish story adopting a cinematic aura. The dazzling opening preludes some of Glass’ most exciting, evocative music—including the beautiful, unsettling movement “Tranquility” and a truly awesome finale. An inspired, brilliantly conceived idea.

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