Italian ensemble Alter Ego have made their name playing the post-minimalism of composers as diverse as Louis Andriessen, David Lang and Frederic Rzewski. Now they turn their attention to pre-, or perhaps more accurately, prototype minimalism in this fine two-disc survey of early Philip Glass. Rejecting the seamless cross-stitching and salamander slither of Glass’s own ensemble, Alter Ego opt for a brassier and more strident approach. This strategy proposes a subtly alternative view about which the composer obviously approves – Orange Mountain Music is his own label.
The Misteri d'Elx (Mystery Play of Elche) is a religious drama performed annually in the southeastern Spanish city of Elche (or Elx in the local dialect) since medieval times. The play reenacts the Assumption of Mary in a two-act musical production, entirely sung, that takes place over two successive days in August. The Mystery Play is a major European tourist attraction, and UNESCO in 2001 named it a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. With typical boldness, Jordi Savall and La Capella Reial de Catalunya plunge into a slice of the musical past that is rewarding yet raises complex issues in performance. Here, however, the group is not resurrecting a half-buried tradition but rather dealing with one that is living.