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Classical - Released September 10, 2010 | Nonesuch

Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica
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Classical - Released February 2, 2018 | Nonesuch

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Classical - Released September 13, 2005 | Nonesuch

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Classical - Released September 20, 2005 | Nonesuch

Of the composers generally referred to as "minimalist" (a label almost universally rejected by those to whom it is applied), three have had a substantial and direct impact on modern music both popular and classical since the 1960s: Philip Glass, Steve Reich and, to a somewhat lesser degree, John Adams. Glass has had the greater commercial success and Adams has worked in larger forms with more prestigious orchestras, but Reich has made the most consistently interesting music in both harmonic and rhythmic terms, successfully setting repetitious, slow-changing patterns into interesting and musically compelling structures. As he has repeatedly and adamantly stated, his is not "trance" music; he expects the listener to pay close attention, and his music amply rewards those who do. This monumental ten-CD retrospective collects the original recordings of Reich's published music, except for the new recordings of "New York Counterpoint," "Eight Lines," "Four Organs," and "Music for 18 Musicians." It documents his progression from early tape pieces (deceptively simple, foreshadowing later work with phase shifting and canonic structures), to more recent choral/orchestral works that demonstrate conclusively that Reich's music is far from "minimal." His most famous works are included, notably "Music for 18 Musicians," "The Desert Music," and "Different Trains," widely regarded as his masterpiece. There are, however, some curious exclusions: His groundbreaking "Violin Phase" is missing, not to mention the charming "Music for Pieces of Wood" ("Clapping Music," from the same period, is included), and his gorgeous composition for flutist Ransom Wilson, "Vermont Counterpoint." Nevertheless, this box set is an essential purchase for anyone with a serious interest in modern art music. The packaging is beautiful, and the accompanying booklet includes full track and personnel listings, a chronology of Reich's career, appreciative notes from fellow musicians, and an excellent new interview by Jonathan Cott. ~ Rick Anderson
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Classical - Released September 30, 2014 | Nonesuch

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Classical - Released September 20, 2005 | Nonesuch

Classical - Released May 26, 2017 | Classic Records

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Classical - Released September 13, 2005 | Nonesuch

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Classical - Released September 18, 2006 | Nonesuch

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Classical - Released September 1, 1980 | ECM New Series

Steve Reich's commercial success had ballooned after his prior release on ECM, Music for 18 Musicians, and this collection of three compositions, two new and one from 1967, was the follow-up. Music for a Large Ensemble is very much of a piece with the prior work, using extended melodic lines, a larger palette of sound colors, and key changes every several minutes. It's charming and pleasantly busy in an industrious way but really covers little new ground. The remaining two pieces are where the real meat lies. Violin Phase was written early in the composer's career, when he was just working through the core ideas of his brand of minimalism alongside similar "phase" works for piano and electric organ. Scored for solo violin and played by the brilliant Shem Guibbory, the violinist plays against tapes of himself, beginning in strict unison but gradually speeding up or slowing down, generating one fascinatingly unexpected pattern after another. The intellectual rigor and breathtaking purity of the music makes one wish, perhaps, that Reich would forego the added ornamentation of his later years. Ironically, given the genre, some of the lines have an almost romantic quality to them, giving the work a striving, even heroic character. Octet represented a step ahead from the opening piece. Scaled back in instrumentation, with spikier (even jazzy) rhythms (bass clarinets scurrying rapidly hither and yon) and more overtly melodic material (some of it inspired by his recent study of Hebrew cantillation), Reich managed once again to successfully balance process with content in a manner that would reach its apex for this period with his subsequent Sextet. Listeners who only came to know Reich through his even more popular works like Different Trains and The Cave owe it to themselves to seek out recordings like this and earlier releases to hear his concept in its clearest and boldest context. Highly recommended. ~ Brian Olewnick
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Classical - Released April 25, 2000 | Nonesuch - WBR

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Classical - Released September 12, 2011 | Nonesuch

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Classical - Released September 13, 2005 | Nonesuch

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Classical - Released February 2, 2018 | Nonesuch

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Classical - Released September 26, 2014 | Nonesuch

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Classical - Released December 6, 2005 | Nonesuch

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Classical - Released October 2, 2001 | Nonesuch - WBR

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Classical - Released September 13, 2005 | Nonesuch

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Classical - Released February 15, 2008 | Nonesuch

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Classical - Released September 13, 2005 | Nonesuch

Steve Reich has always been at the forefront of technology while preserving his love for acoustic instruments. Three Tales is a collaboration with the cinematic artistry of Beryl Korot, and marries the worlds of historical events and Reich's minimalist and multi-layered combination of musics with the psychodrama of digital visual possibilities. Reich, in the liner notes, dismisses the idea that he is embracing new media while simultaneously scoffing at the "advances" of humankind as sensationalized by the news in today's manic society. Instead he is -- more than at any other time in his career -- telling broad-reaching stories with the full spectrum of his German/Jewish/African-influenced music, words, and image-driven scenarios that are burned in our brains, but never before in this particular light. The triad of accounts, which definitely act as a connected suite, relate to the horrific disaster of the torched Hindenburg blimp; the religious and vengeful connections between the Biblical tale of Adam and Eve, Hiroshima and the atomic bombs, and the invention of the two-piece women's swimsuit; and the first vestiges of artificial life created in contemporary times as represented by the cloning of the famous sheep Dolly. The accompanying DVD is useful in that it does enhance the audio backdrop, though as always with Reich's unique approach, the music can easily stand alone. "Hindenburg" (with "It Could Not Have Been a Technical Matter" on the DVD) starts with a dramatic, dancing motif on pianos, string quartet, and marimba, but phases into the actual sounds of sizzling and then eruptive thermite and hydrogen reacting. It's a macabre effect as vocal commentary and layered vocals become a news actuality. The ten-part "Bikini" is an ever evolving piece, ranging from the statement "I watched it fly" to strings sighing; a probing, insistent chorale in mixed meters; a gigantic mushroom chorale; settled and apologetic strings; an implied march; the rhythmic noise of countdown; more strident strings; and a post-horror aftermath of shock, dismay, and indignation. Whether resolute or not, this 22-and-a-half-minute piece really sets one's thought process into tilt-a-whirl mode. "Dolly" has an insular feeling, with multiple commentaries from scientists on the vagaries, possible consequences, and unlimited possibilities cell division and multiplication might lead to in the future. There's a clear choral homage to birth, processed percussive statements of the "human body machine" turned faceless, phased and echoed audio images of Charles Darwin's theorems, the thought that "every creature has a song," and the lengthy concluding coda where technology is a constant of evolution, but to its detriment, turned into intelligent machinery as phased and layered notions of controlling robotics, cyborg beings, and ultimate immortality end with the idea that this is "bringing up a baby the hard way." Throughout this program, Reich's central musical themes are always present, either exploding, providing a triptych through not only his witty modern music but the linear path of life, or expressing self-doubt through a vision of both caution and bravery. The most reliable members of Reich's longstanding large ensembles are here, including percussionists Bob Becker, Russ Hartenberger, Garry Kvistad, and James L. Preiss, mainly on marimba and vibes. The Synergy vocal ensemble add all the theatrics possible, while veteran pianists Edmund Niemann and Nurit Tilles stand fast in their role to drive this music into the 21st century. Three Tales is yet another stunning accomplishment in Steve Reich's illustrious career, but these descriptions can never really do it justice. Please, when you purchase this item, take your time in watching, listening, and reflecting on how the human condition (in both its depth and shallowness) and its feats, tragedies, triumphs, and consequences still steadfastly allow us to retain hope and optimism for a better world. ~ Michael G. Nastos

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