Music by Philip Glass from Lisa Moore’s 2015 Mad Rush CD (Orange Mountain Music) presenting music with roots in motion pictures, opera, Ghandi, and Buddhism. Mad Rush was written for the Dalai Lama’s dramatic 1981 entrance into St. John the Divine Cathedral, NYC. Metamorphosis I was composed for The Thin Blue Line – a 1988 Errol Morris documentary about Randall Dale Adams who was wrongfully convicted of murdering a police officer and sentenced to death. Metamorphosis II was featured in The Hours – a film based on Virginia Woolf. Satyagraha Act III Conclusion is a 7 minute piano arrangement of the opera’s final scene. “Satyagraha” is Sanskrit for “truth force”. Satyagraha deals with Gandhi’s early years in South Africa and his development of non-violent protest. “Closing” is a solo arrangement of the Music in Twelve Parts finale. Etude no. 2 completes the concert, building rich resonance over a lilting 7/8 – 4/4 rhythm.
“The memory of Moore’s lucid, luminous performance are all I have left to spin into this tale. This performance needs no aid in finding embedding itself into my memory. I’ve heard some dismiss Glass’ work for its overt simplicity, and piano it would seem to reduce further its already minimal content. But Moore’s playing shaded each repeated scale fragment and every basso thump to rang out among the Old Masters in the Toledo Museum of Art’s Great Gallery” — David Dupont, I Care If You Listen
“This album of piano works by Philip Glass has more life and freshness than the composer’s own recordings, themselves still vital. When “Mad Rush” begins to teem, Ms. Moore’s playing seems to escape the shackles of Glass’s processes. In the shifting chords of “Closing,” lines sing as if in Baroque counterpoint, with a fragility and tenderness that recalls Strauss. The five tableaux of “Metamorphosis,” and an arrangement of the end of “Satyagraha,” are scarcely less diaphanous.” — David Allen, The New York Times June ‘15
From Trondheim Norway Aug 2019: “Lisa makes my dice too small”
The piano player visiting Trondheim on Thursday, made the water flow. Not literally, but this was the experience she created.
Words: Maria Veie Sandvik
Water flowed into the cathedral, it was like a dream.
Lisa Moore performed on a podium underneath the main tower, between the northern and southern wing. Despite her considerable international standing, she radiated a humble seriousness. She’s got natural authority, not expressed through posing gestures, but through calmness. Already before her fingers hit the keys, we are focused. The audience sit on chairs that make a lot of sound even by the slightest movement, still the only sound to be heard are occasional suppressed coughs.
The programme of the evening is dedicated to Philip Glass, “the founder of minimalism”, who’s been working cross culturally with icons like Doris Lessing, David Bowie and Woody Allen. Glass himself describes his works as “music with repetitive structure”. In addition to Glass, the audience were treated to “Ishi’s Song” by Martin Bresnick and “Wed” by David Lang.
Swathed in blue light, Moore starts with Glass’ “Etude no. 2”. The first thing that springs to mind is waves, the water flows in, growing in volume and intensity. Even when Moore releases a key, the sound hangs in the air for a long time. It is really, really quiet, not even the squeaking of a chair, only the falling sound of the note.
In the pause before “Metamorphosis I-V”, I move myself to the front row. The light shifts again and gets warmer, from ocean blue to apricot. Are we as an audience being transformed? This year’s Olavsfest impresses, not only through the festival’s choice of artists, but also through how they are presented to the audience. Moore’s playing is ravishing, enchanting, alluring – it’s like we’re all dissolving and become one. And this doesn’t happen through works of dead classic composers, but some that are very much alive. Bresnick is present to hear Moore play «Ishi’s Song». Before Moore sits down by the grand piano, we hear Bresnick tell us about Ishi, who in 1911 was the last survivor of the Yahi tribe of California. Bresnick emphasized how both Ishi and himself had lost the opportunity to speak their native tongue, and described the piece as a requiem for Ishi, but also as a song of healing. What made the piece stand out even further, was that Moore used her own voice, not just the keys on the piano. I got a similar experience from Rossana Mercado-Roja’s performance “Sin Nombre” at the Konst-Tid festival in Åre a few days later. What do you do when you no longer know your native tongue?
Then, the water flows in again, running through Moore’s fingers. It fills the cathedral and lights up the windows. Moore impresses through incredibly precise touches. She’s brilliant, and time and time again I get the feeling she’s gonna leave us – through her sudden and surprising changes, long before the concert ends. Finally she leaves us for real, but we applaud her back and get “Etude no. 7” as a gift in return. With this encore by Glass we also get to hear her hammering the keys, this time with even greater contrast in her approach. It’s like history itself wells out of her piano.
Olavsfest’s festival theme, transformation, turned specific through Moore’s choice of material. Thursday night, Moore gave a voice to both Ishi, Bresnick and countless others.