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
A collection of musical gems by great contemporary composers of the minimalist and postminimalist trend. Music of Steve Reich (Vermont Counterpoint, New York Counterpoint - first recording of the saxophone version), Arvo Pärt (Pari Intervallo), Hans Otte (Eins), Ludovico Einaudi (Quattro Passi), Henryk Mikołaj Górecki (For you Ann Lill, Op.58), skilfully interpreted by Andrea Ceccomori and Goffredo Degli Esposti on the flutes, Paul Wehage on the saxophones, Cecilia Chailly on harp and Fabrizio Ottaviucci on piano.
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.
The music of Steve Reich has been heard in various venues, including electronic music dance clubs, but the full symphony orchestra treatment has been rare. That is changing, however, with the tenure of Kristjan Järvi as chief conductor of the Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the result in that musically conservative, German city is this major-label double album of Reich's music, in many respects a first. Järvi's enthusiasm for the project is palpable here, most obviously in the live performance of the early Reich standard Clapping Music, which he and the composer perform together to the approval of the crowd.