Four American Composers, Part II: Philip Glass and Robert Ashley | Chicago Reader

Four American Composers, Part II: Philip Glass and Robert Ashley

Peter Greenaway (The Pillow Book) tackles two difficult musicians in these documentary segments made for British TV in 1983. The first intercuts a performance by the Philip Glass Ensemble with comments from Glass and his colleagues, explaining how they perform the repetitive work. It proves far more interesting and satisfying than the second segment, in which composer/performance artist Robert Ashley and his colleagues talk about Perfect Lives, his bizarre opera for television. Greenaway tries to be playful, using intertitles to stress random words, but Ashley, with his flat speech and techno-fetishism, seems like a humorless doppelganger of Laurie Anderson. 110 min.

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