Steve Reich is probably the most remix-ready of contemporary classical composers, which makes this project a good idea whose time should have come long ago. His minimalist twelve-tone symphonettes are constructed around trippy circular riffs that just beg to be sliced up into loops and juxtaposed against steely drum-machine rhythms. Happily, the nine mixmaster generals on Reich Remixed have radically different notions of how to go about doing this. The British duo Coldcut pile mushrooming synths and modern-primitive beats onto Reich's classic "Music for 18 Musicians," rattling his serene dreamscape with ambient-techno mayhem. Nobukazu Takemura taps into the becalming spirituality of "Proverb" by adding a gently pulsing electronic undertow and a soaring choirboy vocal. And, true to form, DJ Spooky delves into pure metal-machine music abstraction with his take on "City Life." Reich purists may take issue with Remixed, but if it leads a few inquiring minds to check out the original recordings, it's a mission accomplished. (RS 811)MARC WEINGARTEN
In the afterglow of his 60th birthday in 1997, Nonesuch Records delivered Steve Reich and his listeners an immense gift, this 10-CD retrospective of his work for the label, extending from his earliest tape-manipulation pieces to his most recent compositions utilizing samplers and the video artistry of Beryl Korot. Aside from the ear's liquid sense-making when it hears the dense and limber marimbas of Reich's Six Marimbas or his taut, dizzying Piano Phase, there is a physical response almost inevitable in Reich's music.
Alarm Will Sound's recording of Steve Reich's monumental orchestral/choral works The Desert Music and Tehillim, released on the Cantaloupe label in 2002, greatly benefits from the group's close connections with the composer: the ensemble's conductor, Alan Pierson, and several of the performers studied at the Eastman School with Brad Lubman, a conductor frequently enlisted by Reich. Also, Pierson's arrangements, which reconcile the chamber and orchestral versions that exist for both works, were prepared in close consultation with the composer; thus, this may well be the definitive recording of these pieces. Brilliantly sonorous in their climaxes – the burst of light near the end of Desert Music, the "Alleluias" that close Tehillim – the players also articulate Reich's intricate canonic textures with nimble precision. Voices and strings are always an Achilles heel within Reich's percussive textures (leading him to eliminate part doublings in favor of giving each line to a lone, amplified performer), but here the singers and strings maintain an impressive rhythmic vitality.
Steve Reich has a remarkable arrangement for a composer in that he is an exclusive artist for Nonesuch and has been so for more than two decades. Back in 1996, when Reich celebrated his 60th birthday, Nonesuch issued a 10-CD box set of "everything" – all of the works in the Warner Classics vaults that he had recorded, including some new at the time, such as Steve Reich: Works 1965-1995. With Reich's 70th birthday afoot, the earlier set still in print and Nonesuch belonging to a classical music division that is operating on one lung, it has decided on a more modest approach to the newer observance with Steve Reich: Phases – A Nonesuch Retrospective, a collection consisting of five discs.
Following their internationally acclaimed recording of Steve Reich's masterpiece Music For 18 Musicians, Ensemble Signal and Brad Lubman present two recent pieces by the composer: Double Sextet from 2007 and Radio Rewrite from 2012. Double Sextet is scored for two sextets of flute, clarinet, violin, cello, vibraphone and piano. It won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Music - the first for the composer. Radio Rewrite is a work for instrumental ensemble inspired by two songs by the British rock band Radiohead - ''Jigsaw Falling into Place'' and ''Everything in Its Right Place.'' The piece represents the first time that Reich has reworked material from western pop/rock music. These strong, tuneful, energetic, tightly made works receive impassioned performances from Ensemble Signal, who The New York Times has called 'one of the most vital groups of its kind.'