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The cellists of the ONE perform Philip Glass’s “Symphony for eight” cellos at the Auditorio Nacional in Madrid.

Joaquín Fernández, Josep Trescolí, Javier Martínez, Mireya Peñarroja, Enrique Ferrández, Mariana Cores, Montserrat Egea and Ángel Luis Quintana, cellists of the Orquesta Nacional de España, offer tomorrow, at 19:30, in the chamber hall of the Auditorio Nacional the programme entitled Satélite 13: Violonchelos de la ONE. In addition to Offenbach’s Pas de six, for six cellos, Falla’s 7 popular songs and Richard Strauss’ Finale aus Don Quixote, the programme includes three contemporary compositions: Krzysztof Penderecki’s Agnus Dei from the Polish Requiem for eight cellos; O Comforter (prayer for the Holy Spirit) by the Soviet-born Uzbek composer Alexander Knaifel; and Philip Glass’s Symphony for eight [cellos].

The Symphony for Eight is an arrangement for eight cellos of the third movement of Philip Glass’s Symphony No. 3, by the Spanish cellist and conductor Elías Arizcuren Cabezas (San Sebastián, 1943) for the Octeto Ibérico de Violonchelos [now known as Cello Octet Amsterdam], which he founded in March 1988 in Amsterdam, the city where he lives for many years. Arizcuren and Glass met in 1998 at the Het Muziektheater in Amsterdam. In the course of their conversation, Glass encouraged the Spanish musician to make this arrangement for eight cellos of the symphony that the American had created for ten violins, four violas, three cellos and two basses. Arizcuren’s arrangement was premiered in June 1999 at the Festival of American Adventures at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, in the presence of the composer.

Symphony No. 3 is considered one of Glass’s most classical or traditional symphonies, with the structure of a true classical work. And the third movement is actually the core of the work, taking the form of a dark chaconne. When Glass heard the arrangement by the cello octet, he was so impressed by the quality and potential of the Iberian Ensemble that he gave Arizcuren carte blanche to immerse himself in his music. Years later, in 2006, Arizcuren and the Cello Octet Amsterdam recorded for Orange Mountain Music, the record label owned by Philip Glass, Glass Reflections, an album that includes cello versions of works by the American such as Mishima, Company, Façades, The Secret Agent, etcetera.

© Photograph by Arturo Béjar downloaded from the Philip Glass account on X.