The Album Experience Preview – Pachelbel and Glass at Henry Hudson Planetarium (Free) September 6th
This evening of listening is a new idea that immediately sticks out as a hidden gem. The point of the evening is to listen deeply to pieces familiar and new alike in the Henry Hudson Planetarium. The performances are coordinated by Nathaniel Reichman; producer, mastering engineer, mixer, editor, and synthesizer programmer. Reichman is a Grammy-nominated producer and mixer having worked on John Luther Adams Become Ocean the 2014 Pulitzer Prize-winning composition. This piece is groundbreaking, and it is amazing to have such a prolific and under-sung artist curating an event here in Albany. Reichman is an artist whose name I may not have known, but his body of work is incredible, I highly recommend checking out his website at the very least.
For the Henry Hudson Planetarium, Reichman has created a nearly four-hour concert. This sounds intimidating, and it is, however, the concert is based around two hypnotic and meditative pieces from the edges of music history. First, at 7 pm Pachelbel’s Organ Works will be played. This album recorded by Werner Jacob set the stage for JS Bach’s later organ pieces which shaped modern counterpoint. These pieces sound almost nostalgic, they are haunting without being sorrowful. This may be a mixture of the generally minor keys mixed with the light texture of the organ. There are no huge Stokowski moments, the pipe organ was a small and simple instrument at Pachelbel’s time. It’s a shame his Cannon in D so frequently overshadows the beauty of Pachelbel’s other works. Pachelbel illuminates early counterpoint and baroque techniques making his music so beautifully simple and yet kaleidoscopic. This is an aesthetic later used by minimalist composers beginning in the 1960s and developing through the 1980s, tying Pachelbel to the second half of the concert.
At 9 pm, Philip Glass’s Organ Works begins in the planetarium. This album is performed by Donald Joyce, and clearly shows the relationship between the minimalist and baroque movements. Glass’s music is characterized by repeating patterns, kaleidoscopic harmonies, and interweaving rhythms, three trademarks of the minimalist genre. Full disclosure, am obsessed with Philip Glass. I find his music intellectual like Bach and emotionally complex despite its simplicity. The timbre of the organ, now contemporary, is deeper and richer than Pachelbel’s and so are the textures Glass employs. There are moments of absolute joy in the music allowed due to the tension of the repetition, and the ability to hear this album on high-quality speakers, late on a Friday night, surrounded by others enjoying the experience, and cozy in the Albany planetarium is beyond brilliant. The connotation of the organ is often limited to gospel and hymnal music. However, this evening shows how much more the instrument can and has been used for.
I hope many of us can take advantage of this free community event to support Reichman, the Henry Hudson Planetarium, and music as an event in Albany.