Foday Musa Suso (kora), Mark Atkins (didj), Ashley MacIsaac (fiddle), Wu-man (pipa)
Orange Mountain Music
Orion is an evening-long piece first performed at the arts festival preceding last year's Olympics in Athens. To reflect the multinational ethos of the games, Philip Glass collaborated with composers and instrumentalists from around the world, embedding their contributions in the seven main parts of Orion - so named because the constellation is visible from both hemispheres. In the opening movement, Australia, a solo didgeridoo features prominently; there's a pipa player in the third, standing for China, a Celtic fiddler from Canada; a kora for the Gambia; a sitar for India, and so on. The neutrality of Glass's style is perfect for these exotic excursions.
Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 9/23/2005
Recorded live in Athens, where it prefaced the 2004 Olympics, Glass's international jamboree begins with a grandiose drone bass reinforced by didgeridoo, and grows steadily more upbeat and joyous. Soloists drawn from his sometime collaborators appear in turn to play alongside an ensemble of percussion, pulsing keyboards and lyrical wind. Wu Man's pipa discovers strummed chromatic slithers; Foday Musa Soso sets up a kora groove that slips in and out of Glass's counterpoints; Cape Breton fiddler Ashley MacIsaac drives a stomping dance medley; Gaurav Mazumdar improvises on sitar material part-composed by Ravi Shankar. Everybody comes together in a rousing Greek folk song led by Eleftheria Arvanitaki. Complete with linking duets, it's as theatrical as a Glass stage piece, but only the experimental drums of the Brazilian trio Uakti lose the impact they had when seen.
Robert Maycock, BBC Music Magazine, 11/1/2005