Sally Whitwell: Philip Glass gave me a one-man round of applause.

Sally Whitwell Etudes

Australian pianist Sally Whitwell has once again proven she can be trusted with the fine works of world-renowned minimalist composer Philip Glass with the release of her latest album Etudes.

Whitwell won an ARIA Award for Best Classical Album in 2011 for Mad Rush - her first recording of a collection of works written by Glass. It would become the catalyst from which Whitwell and Glass would form a working relationship - indeed friendship - as Whitwell faithfully and skilfully interprets the master's iconic pieces on stage and in the studio.  

Etudes - which has reached number one on the ARIA Classical Album Chartsprovides twenty pieces which form Glass's largest and most important work for solo piano written over two decades between 1991 and 2011. The project was conceived in 2013 when Glass invited Whitwell to perform with him at the Perth International Arts Festival, and then in New York and Los Angeles.

Impressively, Whitwell has memorised the 147 minute set for the album released earlier this month, and says that when she performed Etudes for Glass last year - just the two of them in a room - he responded, "Your playing has real poetry in it." Naturally, Whitwell thought, "I can now die happy."

Whitwell has artfully managed to do justice to Glass's masterpieces which chart the musical development of one of the world's most important and game-changing composers.

"He listened politely, then gave me a one-man round of applause at the end."

No doubt countless others will do the same, albeit an applause given simultaneously from many.

Etudes is out now

For any musician, it is one of the most wonderful things in the world, specialising in a particular
repertoire. It’s rather like having a relationship. You have that first flush of love, and the honeymoon
period. Then you really get to know them, their bad habits, their flaws, until you finally arrive at that
deep level of intimacy you can only have with someone who is The One.
This is definitely how I feel about my own journey through the piano music of Philip Glass.
— Sally Whitwell, pianist