(Cello Concerto) - There are passages where the debate between orchestra and soloist seems to contrast those often-copied, easily parodied Glass mannerisms with his more melodically and harmonically expansive work of recent years. The result is one of the most engaging, impressive and beautiful things Glass has done. The slow movement, lyrical and graceful, sets us up perfectly for the shock of the opening of the finale, which bursts in with one of those 'accelerating train' episodes Glass does so effectively.
(Timpani) - It all works remarkably well… The fast first movement has exciting, ritualistic solo parts, perhaps influenced by South-East Asian and Japanese traditions. The slow movement manages to make the drums sound lyrical, embedded in settings of regal brass and pastoral woodwind. The cadenza preceding the third movement, highly athletic as it is, proves to be a warm-up for Evelyn Glennie and Jonathan Haas before the technical tour de force of the finale.
Barry Witherden, Gramophone, 9/1/2004
Here's a welcome antidote to the blandness that seems to be clogging up so much American music at present. Both of these exiting pieces are sure-fire crowd-pleasers, yet both are also uncompromisingly rigorous in compositional terms. It's always pleasing to see Julian Lloyd Webber doing what he does best, which is playing demanding music very well indeed. 'His' concerto is also a near-perfect mixture of what Glass does best when writing for such forces, being thoroughly mindful of orchestral texture, the sheer power of harmony and metrical vigour and indeed the expressive abilities of a good soloist. Lloyd Webber takes all of this on board, gliding seamlessly from yearning lyricism to a jackhammer-like assertiveness with apparent ease but with no trace of complacency.
The thundering second piece, requiring two soloists playing a total of 14 timpani, is cheerfully bombastic but expertly controlled by Jonathan Haas and Evelyn Glennie.
Roger Thomas, BBC Music Magazine, 12/1/2004
...this makes great demands on the soloist, not least in the absorbing three-minute partially accompanied cadenza that begins the work. It is blessed with a rich tapestry of engaging musical ideas...
The first movement has some delightful interplay between soloist and woodwind, while in the slow movement the strings introduce some of the melodic ideas, with the cello ruminating around the theme to often magical effect.
, Mail on Sunday, 10/3/2004
The opening bars of the Cello Concerto throw the soloist fully into the spotlight with a twisted Bachian theme, and even as it cycles into repeating melodic cells, its chromaticism is so dense that the music is hardly recognizable as Glass’s.
Still, the solo lines push into new ground. Julian Lloyd Webber, who commissioned the Cello Concerto, plays its quasi-Bachian passages with suitable vigor, but he is really in his element when Glass gives him a haunting, lyrical line.
Allan Kozinn, New York Times, 12/5/2004
The work is performed wonderfully, and displays the fully mature Glass as a master composer capable of melding the radical minimalism of his youth with the impassioned music of the neo-Romantics. The work has all the earmarks of a true masterpiece. It feels innovative and free while finding a place rooted among the great works of the past.
The opening theme sounds much like the movement of a murky river. It is dark, churning, powerful and irresistible. This alternates with a much more hopeful and energetic, yet mechanistic, theme that seems to allude to an optimistic view of technology in civilization. The second movement opens with a statement of majesty and statesmanship, with less underlying tension and a more distinguished tempo. It also could be interpreted as a love theme of sorts, with the cello emoting hope, dignity and pensiveness in turns. The third movement recalls the influence of his film scores written by Glass and his contemporaries, perhaps with an ear towards Danny Elfman while voicing the orchestra. While Glass has always definitively used ostinato as a construct, many of the lines he uses hark back to the Elfman film scores. There is a sense of dark humor in this movement, and a feeling of joy being taken from the dark modes and minor tonalities. At several points one hears echoes of Glass as a young man. Yet he never loses sight of his melodic and thematic composition.
Patrick Gary, The Strad, 12/1/2004