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
The hook for this terrific recording of three of Steve Reich's most attractive works is the use of alternate versions of the several pieces that differ from the original recordings on Nonesuch. This recording has Reich's imprimatur; he enthusiastically recommends the performances in a program note. The most radical departure from the original version is Piano Counterpoint, Vincent Corver's arrangement of Six Pianos for a single live pianist with the other five parts prerecorded. This allows the piece to fit nicely into Reich's "Counterpoint" series, which includes Vermont Counterpoint for flutes and New York Counterpoint for clarinets. Corver also speeds up the tempo so the piece has an even more propulsive aural energy, although in live performance it's hard to beat the visceral excitement of six pianists on-stage. The London Steve Reich Ensemble version of the Triple Quartet, unlike the Kronos Quartet's premiere recording, uses three live quartets, and is one of three performance options that Reich specified in the score, the third being an orchestral version with 36 players. This is the first commercial recording of this version.