Modern classical for philistines
August 9, 2017 9:49 AM   Subscribe

I really like the more pop-oriented works of Philip Glass -- Metamorphosis, Glassworks, and a lot of his film scores. I like Glass's busy, rhythmic style; I like how thematic they are, with the same melodic throughline being developed in various ways; and at the end of the day I love how goddamn catchy his compositions are, how easily they get stuck in your head. I know almost literally zero about modern classical music -- are there other composers doing this sort of thing whom I should be aware of?
posted by eugenen to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Steve Reich? For example: Music for 18 Musicians.

You might also like Carl Nielsen's Symphony No. 5.
posted by slkinsey at 9:55 AM on August 9, 2017 [3 favorites]

Steve Reich's most underrated piece is his Variations for Winds, Strings, and Keyboards. You can find it on YouTube.
posted by wittgenstein at 10:24 AM on August 9, 2017

Terry Riley. His piece In C has been recorded by many different ensembles and orchestras, including (my favorite) a group of musicians from Mali in Africa.
posted by matildaben at 10:42 AM on August 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

Max Richter.
Vivaldi Recomposed: the Four Seasons - Richter takes the themes and fragments of Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" concertos and rearranges them in a way that both evokes the original but is quite new and fresh. (Link goes to a video containing the whole thing together, I didn't see any YouTube playlists for all the parts.)

On the Nature of Daylight - probably his most famous piece, has turned up lots of places including the film "Arrival."

Dream 3 (in the midst of my life) is an excerpt of an 8 hour, 20 minute long sequence called "Sleep," which as a whole is intended to be slept to overnight, or there's a shorter, hour long album "From Sleep"

Johan Johannsson
Flight From the City from his album "Orphee."
posted by dnash at 10:55 AM on August 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

You might want to check out the Modern Composition section of A Closer Listen for album reviews. I've had good luck finding new stuff there.

Some specific composers/pieces/albums I enjoy:
- Ben Folds' Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, which is on his album So There.
- Valgeir Sigurðsson, specifically the soundtrack for Draumalandið
- Ólafur Arnalds, most of his stuff, but I really enjoy Island Songs
- John Luther Adams' Become Ocean

On preview, seconding Max Richter and Jóhann Jóhannsson
posted by noneuclidean at 11:02 AM on August 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Try Rachel's Music for Egon Schiele. I don't know if it's exactly classical (the proper definition escapes) but it's contemporary chamber music.
posted by goner at 12:10 PM on August 9, 2017

Simeon Ten Holt - Canto Ostinato and Palimpsest
Kronos Quartet also plays Philip Glass and similar works by others
posted by stinker at 12:21 PM on August 9, 2017

The first name that comes to mind is Michael Nyman. He, like Glass, he also works in a (broadly) minimalist style and has written a number of film scores (most famous is perhaps The Piano, including "The Heart Asks Pleasure First").

He has written symphonies, string quartets, concerti, and more.

Try his Concerto for Saxophone and Cello (first movement)
posted by mountmccabe at 3:55 PM on August 9, 2017

For a previous AskMe on Modern Classical, I created a playlist of relatively recent, relatively agitated works. They all have a strong rhythmic drive that may be similar to what you are hearing in Philip Glass. Composers and works:
Osvaldo Golijov - Last Round
Heather Schmidt - Sychronicity
Marjan Mozetich - Dance of the Blind
Sergio Cervetti - Unbridled
Michael Torke - Saxophone Concerto

Link. URI: spotify:user:1236893927:playlist:3p3AMWVojv3RgLzzVHbD8s

The other thing I will point to is yMusic's 2011 album of pieces composed for them, Beautiful Mechanical. These are by young composers, some more known from the indie rock world. The first two pieces by Ryan Lott (Son Lux) and Annie Clark (St. Vincent) are what really come to mind, but the whole album is worth a listen.
posted by mountmccabe at 4:12 PM on August 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Colin McPhee was an early-mid 20th Century composer who was probably an influence on Philip Glass and other "Minimalist" composers, (who mostly did not like that label for their work, but it is a point of reference;)
posted by ovvl at 5:28 PM on August 9, 2017

Something of a tangent, since it's more untypical in terms of sound, but sharing the balance of gravitas and whimsy that Glass has for me: Meredith Monk (Dolmen Music, Songs from the Hill / Tablet)

(Also, though more folk-popsy: Penguin Café Orchestra.)
posted by progosk at 5:15 AM on August 10, 2017

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