Blogging 'Einstein'

Philip Glass's Masterwork, Minute by Breathless Minute

Lucie Jansch

By Eileen Reynolds

Published September 21, 2012.
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(page 4 of 8)

8:33: Mass exodus! The audience is running for the hills (or the bathrooms). The pair of women are back in their chairs. One prattles on in a cheerful customer service voice, while the other continues her Bojangles speech. “If you see those baggy pants, chuck the hills. It was trees. It it it was trees.”

8:35: Einstein is playing arpeggios now. The bottom notes of each outline this trippy five-note chord progression, like Bach but not Bach. Ah! Another Einstein photo.

8:??: People are dancing on a big open stage with a backdrop that looks like heaven. All these dapper young men in high-waisted khaki pants remind me of Gene Kelly in “Singin’ in the Rain.” The music — organ and chorus — is busy, so busy that my brain’s usual channels of worry are blocked. I am happy. I am beaming. I want to record this sound and play it in the middle of the night, when I can’t sleep. I want this part to go on forever. The dancers are doing these twirly leaps. They look weightless. Most are tall men, but my favorite is a short woman with yellow hair. She seems springier than the others, and when she leaps, her hair poofs out to the sides. Dancers seem to move in unison, but because their limbs are all different lengths, they’re all really moving at different speeds. Relativity! I can’t believe I’ve never thought about this before. Oh! A big white disk is moving across the stage, through the air. It’s almost at the other end, already. Why didn’t I notice it until now?

8:55: The dancing is over. The crowd applauds. I move my bag so that people in my row can get back to their seats. There are hours to go but I already know I’m never leaving mine.

9ish: New scene: We’re looking at the back of the last car of a train, which is moving away from us. Silhouetted in the windows are the black woman in a white dress and a white man in a tux. I feel guilty for noticing race but then tell myself that it’s okay, that I’m supposed to: This looks like a scene from the Civil War or something. Fa-si-si-fa-si-si-fa. The man and the woman are now standing on the balcony and reaching toward each other with gloved hands. There’s a full moon overhead — I don’t think it was full before. They’re singing so quickly now — la-fa-la-si-do-si. How long does it take to learn these parts? To memorize the changes? Do they rehearse it in pieces? Maybe it’s like a marathon, where you never really do the whole thing until showtime.

9:!!: What?! She pulled a gun on him! She’s grinning! He’s frozen in fear, with his arms up! My heart is pounding. I am upset. I did not expect this. What’s the stupid conch shell for?


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