The Arts

Luminato Festival – Philip Glass and Leonard Cohen’s Book of Longing

Luminato Festival – Philip Glass and Leonard Cohen’s Book of Longing featured image

by Paula Citron

Philip Glass’ Book of Longing was a big ticket Luminato item. The haunting song cycle with musical interludes is set to Leonard Cohen’s poetry. Cohen also contributed paintings and sketches for the set.

Glass’ music retains his minimalist signature of repeated staccato ascending and descending notes, but there was much more variety in the range of music stylistically. Glass deliberately worked hard to match the mood of the poems that were filled with Cohen’s disappointment in love and other observations. In fact, I loved the music, and it was thrilling to have Glass on hand as one of the keyboardists.

I did, however, find Susan Marshall’s stage direction really irritating with all her comings and goings. Mezzo-soprano Tara Hugo was a sensational chanteuse and the nine musicians under Michael Riesman were fantastic. Tenor Will Erat and bass-baritone Daniel Keeling were good, but soprano Dominique Plaisant had a pinched top.

This was Glass at his most compelling.

From the Elgin Theatre, I’m Paula Citron, arts reviewer for CLASSICAL 96.3 FM.

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