Blogging 'Einstein'

Philip Glass's Masterwork, Minute by Breathless Minute

Lucie Jansch

By Eileen Reynolds

Published September 21, 2012.
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(page 3 of 8)

7:43: New scene, I think. Looks like the stagehands are assembling a laboratory, with beakers full of something red.

7:48: Flutes! Flutes are playing an additive pattern — a string of notes that keeps getting longer. Automatons enter, looking marginally less cheerful. That big white vertical bar is on its side, like a Freud couch, with a cylindrical pillow at one end. The tall black woman comes in wearing a vest, like a lawyer. Two judges enter — black robes, white wigs.

7:53: Two of the automatons seem to be doing their nails. Downstage right, Einstein enters, holding his violin. He has hairy arms and a wristwatch. The judges bang gavels and say the court is in session and then pour things out of beakers a few times.

7:58: Aha! The second judge is the little boy. A guy with a briefcase runs out and freezes center stage, like the romantic lead in a musical. The woman in the vest is talking about baggy pants, Mr. Bojangles, Christopher Knowles, all the Beatles but Ringo. (Poor Ringo.) “Gun, gun, gun,” she says.

8:04: This repetitive text does sound like Gertrude Stein. Or do I only think that because Alex Ross said so? The Einstein violinist is playing some additive scale pattern that sounds like a technical exercise. I like listening to it; it reminds me of an autumn Sunday in the practice room. Pianists have Hanon and Czerny; violinists have…what? I should know this. I should also look this violinist up. He’s good.

8:10: Oh! There’s a big clock with no hands. The music is going really fast. The vest woman is doing her Bojangles speech in fast-forward. A giant black dot is coming in to eclipse the clock.

8:?? (sometime later, after a brief loss of consciousness): The one judge is giving this whole speech about how “All men are created equal” didn’t include women. He’s talking in a high-pitched voice and addressing us as “sisters!” like he’s a woman trying to rile up a crowd. This all has something to do with “Kalamazooooooo,” which he says like that, extending the “ooooo.” A joke about a woman who’s so modest she blindfolds herself when she’s taking a bath. Another joke about a boy who’s too modest to say he’s going to the A. & P. A drawing of a naked woman descends from above.


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