Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Book of Longing, Oct 15, 2008 ***

Book of Longing
Music by Phillip Glass, lyrics & images by Leonard Cohen
Melbourne International Arts Festival
State Theatre, Victorian Arts Centre, Oct 15 to 17, 2008
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Phillip Glass’s music does not suit all palates and the same could be said of Leonard Cohen’s songs. 

The Book of Longing is a collision of Cohen’s poetry with Glass’s contemporary composition and the pair seems to have a deep affinity for each other’s work. The show feels like a night over a vodka glass in a smoky club. Enlarged versions of Cohen’s line drawings (self-portraits, nudes and mandalas) provide a backdrop that draws the eye.

 Glass’s 12-piece ensemble plays his haunting, often sonorous and occasionally ebullient music to accompany Cohen’s poetry which includes long ballad-narratives, love poems and meditations. Glass’s instrumentation is often beguiling but the melodies for the four voices become repetitive.

But it is the short, jokey pieces recorded by Cohen in his deep and rusty tones that grab you and recall his early songs.

 By Kate Herbert

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