Who suspected minimalist composer Philip Glass wrote love songs? Weeks after turning 70 last year, he premiered Songs and Poems for Solo Cello, which he wrote for his fortyish girlfriend, Wendy Sutter. A recording of Sutter playing the piece, which isn’t exactly a boy-band tune, comes out this week, in time for Valentine’s Day. They spoke to Rebecca Milzoff.
You met on tour. What were your first impressions?
Wendy Sutter: I knew his work, but I didn’t know anything about his personal life. He wasn’t on the radar as a romantic interest. Philip Glass: I knew her as an exceptional cellist, but she was somewhat mysterious.
When did you get to know each other better?
W.S.: Philip asked me to do a documentary film’s music, originally for cello and voice. By e-mail I said, “Would you mind if we turned this into a solo piece?” We’d have these old-fashioned meetings, where I’d bring the cello and he’d sit at the piano. Some of the music is so stunning, so emotional; that was kind of my first clue that maybe he liked me more than as a cellist. It was sort of an old-fashioned romantic gesture.
P.G.: I don’t write music for people very often. With a good collaboration, there’s a strong emotional connection to the music, but that’s a professional connection. But then there’s a personal emotional connection that can happen beyond that.
Do you have Valentine’s Day plans?
W.S.: No, well … do we? P.G.: There’s the Tibet House concert the 13th…