Not a lot of people these days have listened to modern classical music. Or rather, not a lot of people WANT to listen to modern classical music. People always go for Beethoven, Wagner, Brahms, or Tchaikovsky, which is fine. However, classical music of the 20th century can be just as good as the music of the Classical/Romantic era. From impressionistic (Debussy, Respighi) to Avant-garde (Penderecki) to neo-classical (Stravinsky), there are many different forms that can be thoroughly enjoyed. Minimalism is one form that seems to be overlooked by the general public. Some people find it uncomfortable to listen to repetitive melodies and simplistic structures (Philip Glass has been parodied for just that). I personally grew fond of it ever since I heard Glass's music from the film Koyaanisqatsi, and now I have yet another genre to explore. And thanks to Glass, I discovered the music of Steve Reich. And thanks to Reich, I am now own a studio recording of "Music for 18 Musicians."
Born in New York City, Reich has been creating his own works since the 1960's. In 1976, he made it big with "Music for 18 Musicians." It's an hour-long composition, and it relies on repetition and harmonic melodies. Scored for (obviously) 18 musicians, clarinets/bass clarinets, xylophones, marimbas, maracas, pianos, female voices, and a violin & cello are required. You would think that a minimal amount of musicians for a one-hour piece wouldn't be very much, but the music offers SO much. I wouldn't necessarily call "Music for 18 Musicians" the greatest minimal piece of all time, but it can be an excellent selection for those who are interested in minimal classical music. True, it's repetitive, but once you listen from beginning to end, you might appreciate the genre a bit more.
As for this specific recording, Ensemble Modern sounds marvelous. Everything seems perfectly balanced; you can hear each instrument clearly from beginning to end. And the sound quality is so clear and refined (another job well done from RCA!).