Budget priced overview of newer recordings
C. Moon | Valley Village, CA | 10/14/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Reich suffers much the same problem as Riley (or even Cage and Stockhausen) where classic recordings remain unavailable and what can be found (easily) on the shelf are newer, 'tamer' recordings that fail to express the more challenging dimensions of the pieces. While much has been done to fix this problem with Riley, the best recordings of Reich remain unavailable.
This set collects the newer performances presented on Nonesuch (recordings dated from the late 80's to the present), and are not what many collectors are looking for. On the other hand, at ~$30 (the price of two CDs), this 5 disc set is nearly give-away and is difficult not to pick up based on this premise alone.
The set does contain a decent (though not terribly informative booklet), and the design of the set is functional and pleasent to look at. For those who want an idea of what Reich did and are willing to accept these rather mild recordings, this isn't a bad investment at all.
Here is what is included in the set (sort of unfortunate it isn't actually listed on the box):
Music for 18 Musicians (Recorded 1996)
Different Trains (1988)
Eight Lines (1996)
You Are (2005)
New York Counterpoint (1997)
Cello Counterpoint (2003)
Electric Counterpoint (1989)
Triple Quartet (1999/2000)
Come Out (1987)
The Desert Machine (1985)
Music for mallet instruments, voices and organ (1990)
A Steve Reich 70th Birthday Present from Nonesuch
R. Hutchinson | a world ruled by fossil fuels and fossil minds | 10/21/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you are a big Steve Reich fan, you probably already have most or all of these recordings. These are not rarities, PHASES is not for collectors -- this 5-disc box is aimed at those of us who have been curious, but not convinced enough to buy multiple Reich recordings. I, for instance, consider MUSIC FOR 18 MUSICIANS to be a masterpiece of late 20th century music (the original ECM recording), but I haven't been nearly as impressed by the other Reich music I've heard. I consider this box to be a gift, and now I have finally satisfied my curiosity about one of the most important and influential composers of our time.
Here we have, for less than the price of any two of these discs as previously marketed, the pioneering COME OUT (1966), a 1987 recording of the 1971 piece DRUMMING, a 1996 recording of the 1976 masterpiece MUSIC FOR 18 MUSICIANS by the Steve Reich Ensemble, the original recordings of DIFFERENT TRAINS (1988) and the TRIPLE QUARTET (1999/2000) with the Kronos Quartet, the original recordings of DESERT MUSIC (1984) and TEHILLIM (1993) for choir and orchestra, ELECTRONIC COUNTERPOINT (1987) with Pat Metheny, PROVERB from 1998, and the entire YOU ARE (VARIATIONS) album of 2005, and more.
I was not initially that impressed with the vocal compositions, but they grow on me with repeated listening. Minimalism doesn't seem to work in the string quartet format (judging from Reich and Glass), though the TRIPLE QUARTET was better live when I heard the Kronos Quartet perform it at LSU in Baton Rouge in the spring of 2005. The concept of DIFFERENT TRAINS is powerful, the composition less so. COME OUT is a stunning work which ends, after the phase shifts separate, with a throbbing electronic rhythm track. DRUMMING is the next best thing to 18 MUSICIANS. I always assumed it was all drums, but as it turns out, it also includes marimbas, glockenspiels and vocals, which are added in turn to stunning effect.
You may know that Reich's music since the 1980s has been strongly shaped by his Jewish faith -- did you know he is an Orthodox Jew? Does it strike you as intriguing that such a radical, innovative composer is devoutly Orthodox? It certainly makes me even more interested in his music. (Thanks to David Schiff and his 11/6/06 article in The Nation for this insight.)
Happy Birthday, Steve, and shalom -- peace."