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Welsh guitarist Gerard Cousins releases “The Poet Acts”, his second album of guitar transcriptions of pieces by Philip Glass.

Guitar versions of Philip Glass’s works are not very common – among the best known are the Dublin Guitar Quartet’s versions of Glass’s String Quartets 2, 3, 4 and 5 – but in 2020 the Welsh guitarist Gerard Cousins (Brecon, 1974) released on Orange Mountain Music (the label owned by Philip Glass himself) Escape, a first album of transcriptions for classical guitar of several of the American composer’s most emblematic pieces. Now, almost three years later, it is the American label Prima Classic that is releasing The Poet Acts, the second album of guitar transcriptions of works by Glass created by Gerard Cousins. On this occasion, the Welshman tackles The Poet Acts (which opens the soundtrack of the film The Hours), three of the Etudes for piano (numbers 1, 2 and 5), a reduced version of Arabesque (in memory of Britton Johnson), the second movement of String Quartet No. 2, “Company”, the second movement – Orphée’s Bedroom – of The Orphée Suite for Piano; Orbit (a composition originally composed for cello); the piece Tissue No. 7 (from Naqoyqatsi, originally composed for Yo-Yo Ma); and Melody No. 10, originally composed for saxophone for Jean Genet’s play Prisoner of Love. Although the guitar has less power to sustain the notes, it does offer more timbral options than the piano, and Cousins interprets Glass’s lyrical lines with great poetic expressiveness, underpinning them with distinctive ostinato textures of vivid contrasts, especially in the outstanding Étude No. 1.