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Classical - Released May 15, 2015 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Exceptional Sound Recording
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Classical - Released December 4, 2020 | Naxos

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Steve Reich is universally acknowledged as one of the foremost exponents of minimalism, arguably the most significant stylistic trend in late 20th-century music. This chronological survey shows how Reich’s innate curiosity has taken his work far beyond such musical boundaries. One of the first fruits of Reich’s creative quest is Music for Two of More Pianos in which the influence of Morton Feldman and jazz pianist Bill Evans can be heard. The rhythmic and flamboyant Eight Lines comes from the true heyday of minimalism, while Vermont and New York Counterpoint both explore webs of phased patterns created by multi-tracked instruments. City Life is a dramatic set of impressions of New York, vividly weaving sampled speech and street sounds into a work with symphonic depth of range and expression. © Naxos
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Classical - Released September 30, 2014 | Nonesuch

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Classical - Released April 1, 1998 | Nonesuch

Nonesuch's 1998 issue of Music for 18 Musicians was originally released as part of the ten-disc box set Works. It's a new digital recording (from 1996) of Reich's most famous piece, and it's the only single-disc release of the piece. It's a fine, nearly definitive, recording of one of the most influential contemporary classical compositions of the late 20th century. © TiVo
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Classical - Released May 9, 2006 | Nonesuch

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
This late-'80s work finds the minimalist composer mixing acoustic and taped material to great effect. The disc's centerpiece is "Different Trains," a work that frames Reich's impressions of his boyhood train trips between his mother in Los Angeles and his father in New York; Reich also intersperses references to the much more harrowing train rides Jews were forced to take to Nazi concentration camps. Using the fine playing of the Kronos Quartet as a base, Reich layers the work with the taped train musings of his governess, a retired Pullman porter, and various Holocaust survivors -- vintage train sounds from the '30s and '40s add to the riveting arrangement. And for some nice contrast, Reich recruits guitarist Pat Metheny to create a similarly momentous piece in "Electric Counterpoint" (Metheny plays live over a multi-tracked tape of ten guitars and two electric basses). Two fine works by Reich in his prime. © TiVo
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Classical - Released February 2, 2018 | Nonesuch

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"QUARTET has the Colin Currie Group performing a composition designed for two vibraphones and two pianos that Reich himself describes as one of his most complex." © TiVo
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Classical - Released September 15, 2020 | Kairos

Hi-Res Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Classical - Released March 9, 2018 | Colin Currie Records

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Classical - Released September 10, 2010 | Nonesuch

Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica
Steve Reich's 2007 Double Sextet, which won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize, is given its first performance by eighth blackbird, the group for whom it was written. For most of his career, Reich has constructed his music with canons using matched pairs of instruments, and he writes that when he was presented with the request from eighth blackbird, he felt he could only write the piece for two identical ensembles, with the live players performing to an accompaniment they had previously recorded, creating the effect of two antiphonal sextets. It's that version that's played here, although both Reich and the ensemble agree that an ideal live performance would feature 12 players. That is somewhat less of an issue in a recording of the piece than in a concert setting, but it is in fact easy to imagine that the give and take of two live sextets could produce subtly different results. Except for conventionality of the instrumentation -- Pierrot ensemble plus percussion -- the Double Sextet doesn't particularly break new ground for Reich, but it's the territory of Eight Lines and Music for Eighteen Musicians in which he's endlessly inventive, and it's loads of fun to hear him so happily and imaginatively at play. Like many of his instrumental works, it's in three movements -- fast, slow, fast -- as is his 2008 2x5 for a double quintet of rock instruments, also recorded for the first time with players from Bang On A Can playing against a recording of themselves. Both works are bright and frisky, saturated with contrapuntal zigzagging, but the Double Sextet is the subtler and more substantial. They receive absolutely top-notch virtuoso performances by their respective ensembles and should certainly delight the composer's fans and listeners who enjoy the cross-pollination of rock and classical that is Reich's specialty. Nonesuch's sound is immaculate and beautifully engineered © Stephen Eddins /TiVo
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Classical - Released April 12, 2019 | Colin Currie Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice
The third album on Colin Currie’s label celebrates the percussionist’s artistic relationship with the American cultural icon Steve Reich. Programmed and performed at the composer’s request and under his supervision, this album is essential for any Reich fan, capturing a group of truly world-class performers at the peak of their powers. For this recording, Colin conducts and performs with the Colin Currie Group and their long-standing collaborators Synergy Vocals. Steve Reich himself joined Colin on stage to perform Clapping Music. © PIAS
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Chamber Music - Released January 1, 2007 | CPO

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
A stunning success. Just take the pivotal pieces of this undervalued recital, Eight Lines, and compare it, for example, with the beautiful, very balanced versions by the Ensemble Modern (RCA) and Christopher Warren-Green (Virgin Classics/Warner) and straight away you'll understand the rhythmic force and expressive density of minimalist and repetitive music, one of the most important currents in today's musical output. In particular, it is important for its influence on a whole swathe of pop and electro musicians on the East Coast of the USA going back to the 1980s. Written for two string quartets, two flutes, and two clarinets, Eight Lines (1983) is clearly one of Steve Reich's masterpieces, as proved by the science of timbres and the deep energy of his writing. That's what strikes one upon hearing this performance by the London Steve Reich Ensemble and Kevin  Griffiths: the implacable élan, the insatiable dynamism of Steve Reich's world – and oh, the clarinet parts! The line woven by the piano at the outset of Piano Phase (1967) has rarely been heard with such great precision and such natural and powerful rhythm. Sextet (1984-85), a harder work, is given here with extraordinary fluency. This enchanting, simply wonderful album is a must-listen for anyone who wants to discover "minimalism" and this American, Steve Reich. © Pierre-Yves Lascar/Qobuz  
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Classical - Released April 1, 1978 | ECM New Series

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
If Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians is simply described in terms of its materials and organization -- 11 chords followed by 11 pieces built on those chords -- then it might seem utterly dry and monotonous. The actual music, though, is far from lackluster. When this recording was released in 1978, the impact on the new music scene was immediate and overwhelming. Anyone who saw potential in minimalism and had hoped for a major breakthrough piece found it here. The beauty of its pulsing added-note harmonies and the sustained power and precision of the performance were the music's salient features; and instead of the sterile, electronic sound usually associated with minimalism, the music's warm resonance was a welcome change. Yet repeated listening brought out a subtle and important shift in Reich's conception: the patterns were no longer static repetitions moving in and out of phase with each other, but were now flexible units that grew organically and changed incrementally over the course of the work. This discovery indicated a promising new direction for Reich, one that put him ahead of his peers by giving his music greater interest and adaptability and led to the more elaborate works of the next two decades. © Blair Sanderson /TiVo
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Classical - Released September 20, 2005 | Nonesuch

Although Reich's music during the '80s, as he gained in popularity, was increasingly written for larger, lusher ensembles (with, oftentimes, the concomitant loss of "edge"), he occasionally and happily reverted to more contained compositions such as those included here. "Sextet" is pared down to four percussionists and two keyboardists (the latter including synthesizers) and evokes early pieces of Reich's Drumming while incorporating his ongoing use of longer melodic lines. In five sections, it tends toward a buoyant and jazzy bubbliness, percolating with all manner of busy interaction and wonderfully intermeshed rhythms. One of the new techniques employed is having the vibraphonists bow their instruments, generating long, ghostly tones reminiscent of musical saws but cleaner and more precise. Since this cannot be done quickly, Reich writes patterns that interweave between performers, achieving a kind of hocketing effect where, by playing only every third or fourth note in a rhythmic line, the ensemble can produce what the listener perceives as a fast tempo even as each individual is playing slowly. The closing section is pure effervescent bliss. "Six Marimbas," scored for, unsurprisingly, six marimbas, sounds even closer to the pieces that originally brought Reich to renown and is, in fact, a rescoring of his "Six Pianos" from 1973. The pure, luscious tones of the marimbas make it even more successful than the original and the work is played with obvious delight and rigor by the percussion ensemble Nexus, who includes several members of Reich's working band of the early '70s. In sum, Sextet/Six Marimbas is one of the finest releases of mid-career Reich, entirely without the pretensions that marred some of his other work from the period, and is highly recommended. © TiVo
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Classical - Released September 1, 1980 | ECM New Series

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Classical - Released May 8, 2020 | Western Vinyl

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Classical - Released September 13, 2005 | Nonesuch

This recording brings together three disparate styles on one record showcasing Reich's compositional work. Opening with "Proverb," a piece for voices and a mixed ensemble, the disc begins on a somber note. The complete text of the piece is the following line from Ludwig Wittgenstein: "How small a thought it takes to fill a whole life!" This line is sung very, very slowly, note by note with style and chord structure hearkening back to medieval harmonization. Electric organs double the singers. The centerpiece of the record is "Nagoya Marimbas," with a sound reminiscent of Reich's marimba work from the '60s and '70s, and for fans of this era of Reich's work it is a pleasant surprise to hear another piece in this style again. Marimba parts themselves are significantly more complex here, showing Reich's continuing development even when returning to old haunts. The final piece, "City Life," is a kickback to an earlier composition style, utilizing sounds in the natural environment (or in this case the urban environment) to generate musical material. Rather than using manipulated magnetic tape, however, Reich uses what he calls the "extended idea of prepared piano" -- the electronic keyboard sampler. Unlike experiments using tape, this piece was recorded live and can be easily reproduced live on-stage. Sampled sounds come in the form of speeches at political rallies, car horns, pile drivers, and sounds from fire-department radios during the first World Trade Center bombing. Using a car horn to replace the sound of a clarinet is, it must be said, pretty darn cool. This record shows Reich playing with different styles -- it is a transitional point in his career -- which leaves the cohesiveness of the recording off-balanced. But seeing the forest for three different kinds of trees, the new works are exciting and musically satisfying. © TiVo
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Classical - Released June 10, 2016 | LSO Live

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Classical - Released October 21, 2016 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released September 18, 2006 | Nonesuch

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Classical - Released September 13, 2005 | Nonesuch

These historical recordings were difficult to find (usually on out of print compilations) for a long time, so it's gratifying to have them readily available in one place. The two important tape pieces here from the mid-'60s, "Come Out" and "It's Gonna Rain," have their sound sources originating in police brutality and apocalyptic evangelism. Reich takes his sources and turns them into two short tape loops repeated rapidly as they gradually go out of synch with each other -- what's revealed are the intricacies of the human voice. "Come Out" takes the voice fragment and turns it into a hall-of-mirror set of voices over shuffling beat and wah-wah that are actually a by-product of subtleties of the voice and almost unrecognizable as the original vocal sample. It becomes a scary psychedelic funk piece that Funkadelic or Can would have been proud of. "It's Gonna Rain" is similarly looped and phased as the preacher's admonition is transformed, moving in and out of synch as the piece progresses with the second part of the piece especially full of fierce, terrifying swirls of noise. After taking musique concrete to another level, Reich decided to try to make similar strides with instrumental music. The two other pieces here, "Piano Phase" and "Clapping Music," represent this new direction in his work. Re-recorded here in 1986 and 1987, their intricate, layered patterns should be familiar to fans of another one of Reich's masterpieces, "Music for 18 Musicians." Early Works is a must-have introduction for anyone interested in the roots of minimalist music. © TiVo