Signal brings Glass’ Symphony No. 3 to life


Signal conductor Brad Lubman

Signal, the superb New Music ensemble, gave a remarkable reading of Philip GlassSymphony No. 3 at Le Poisson Rouge in Greenwich Village last night.

The intimate club setting, with seating the round, really enhanced the mood. And Signal, under the direction of Brad Lubman, played the symphony crisply and with conviction. Although I’ve heard it played before, Signal’s playing made me appreciate it in ways I’ve never been able to do before. It’s emotional and pushes buttons in ways that sometimes seem overly manipulative. But Signal brought out the symphony’s true beauty. Signal’s rendition seemed to strip away those distractions, leaving the core beauty of the symphony. And the violinists who traded off the solo lines in the third movement — especially lead-off player Courtney Orlando — provided a potent reminder of just how skillfully and beautifully Glass writes for that instrument.

The symphony has a cinematic quality that was emphasized by its pairing on last night’s bill with Suite from The Hours, which actually is movie music. Michael Riesman, a pianist and the conductor of Glass’ ensemble, played the Suite like he was born to it — probably because he arranged the three-movement work using from Glass’ music from The Hours, the 2002 Stephen Daldry film.

It’s worth noting that the house was packed for Signal’s performance. All all the tables seemed filled and fans stood three deep at the bar. The composer himself graced the elevated VIP box with his girlfriend, the talented cellist Wendy Sutter, at his side.

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