on 6 April 2001
In this cd, the listener gets three very different takes on Steve Reich -- perhaps the most varied and inventive contemporary composer.
'Proverb' is a beautiful and simple voice composition in the style of Reich's earlier piece, 'Tehillim'. Minimalist in form and message (How small a thought can fill a whole life), the melodic 'Proverb' is nevertheless utterly different from Reich's early minimalist tape-loop music.
'Nagoya Marimbas' is a short jazz-influenced instrumental piece.
'City Life' is one of Reich's most pop-influenced pieces to date, mingling voices and sounds of New York with an orchestral track, a modern-day retake on Gershwin's 'An American in Paris'. This piece just grows on you -- the first time I heard it (live at the first UK performance) I didn't much like it, now this is one of my Reich favourites.
In summary, this cd is stunning. A must-buy for any Reich fan, as well as a super introduction to the composer.
on 4 June 2014
This short work for two marimbas, composed in 1994 for the opening of a new hall at the Nagoya music conservatory in Japan, is for Steve Reich fans in a hurry. Reich himself has said it’s comparable to some of his most famous works of the 1960s and 1970s built out of repeating interlocking patterns that very gradually move in and out of phase with each other. The two that immediately spring to my mind are Music for Mallet Instruments, Voices and Organ (especially memorable for its beautiful sound texture) and above all Music for 18 Musicians for a chamber ensemble heavy with marimbas and xylophones, not a moment too long at 55 minutes, and richly harmonic as well as characteristically rhythmical. But the changes happen much more rapidly in the four-and-a-half minute Nagoya Marimbas, and there’s more melody. The two marimbas play against each other one or more beats out of phase and create, says Reich, a series of two part unison canons. Although the two players have to be virtuosic, the musical processes at work here are unusually transparent.