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Let the Drug Take

A scene from Akhnaten, by Philip Glass, at the Metropolitan Opera in November 2019 (Karen Almond/Metropolitan Opera)

That rather dramatic shot up there is from Akhnaten, the opera by Philip Glass, at the Metropolitan Opera. I play some music from this work in my new episode of Music for a While, here.

The question about minimalism, I have long suggested, is: Does the drug take? Does the spell set in? Does the hypnotist’s watch mesmerize you? If it does, you’re in luck. If it does not, you wonder why everyone else is so enthralled.

I find the excerpt I play in my podcast — the Funeral Music of Amenhotep III — mesmeric and marvelous. See if you agree. See if the drug takes for you, too.

This episode also includes some Bach, played by the young American phenom Conrad Tao (who is both a pianist and a composer). And some of Bizet’s Carmen, reimagined and re-scored by Rodion Shchedrin. And some rare Scriabin, as well as some familiar Scriabin.

By the way, Shchedrin did up Carmen for his wife, Maya Plisetskaya. Shchedrin is one of the outstanding composers of our time. His late wife stands as one of the greatest ballerinas in history. I have often said that they were the most talented couple in the world — unless you wanted to vote for Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf . . .

I close my podcast with a little tribute to Dalton Baldwin, who died the other day. He was a model accompanist, or “collaborative pianist.” I have him with Arleen Auger, the late, great soprano, in “Love Went A-Riding” (Frank Bridge).

Have some Music for a While — again, here.

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