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'Double Sextet' comprises two identical sextets of flute, clarinet, vibraphone, piano, violin, and cello. Doubling the instrumentation was done so that, as in so many of Reich's earlier works, two identical instruments could interlock to produce one overall pattern. The composer says, 'For example, in this piece you will hear the pianos and vibes interlocking in a highly rhythmic way to drive the rest of the ensemble.' The piece can be played in two ways: with 12 musicians, or with six playing against a recording of themselves. Reich continues, 'The idea of a single player playing against a recording of themselves goes all the way back to 'Violin Phase' of 1967. The expansion of this idea to an entire chamber ensemble playing against pre-recordings of itself begins with 'Different Trains' (1988). By doubling an entire chamber ensemble, one creates the possibility for multiple simultaneous contrapuntal webs of identical instruments.'
In '2x5,' Reich expands his palate with rock instrumentation. Scored for two sets of five instruments (hence '2x5'), this 21-minute piece calls for a total of ten musicians: four electric guitars, two pianos, two bass guitars, and two drum sets. Performers can either play the piece all-live with ten musicians or with five live musicians against a pre-recorded tape, as Bang on a Can did for the premiere on the opening night of the Manchester International Festival. 'Clearly 2x5 is not rock and roll, but uses the same instruments. It's an example of the essential difference between 'classical music' and 'popular music.' And that essential difference is: one is notated, and the other is not notated,' Reich says. 'I had to find musicians who (A), could read, and (B), had a genuine rock feeling, and there Bang on a Can excels.'
Digital Booklet: Double Sextet/2x5
Digital Booklet: Double Sextet/2x5
Top Customer Reviews
Regarding 2x5-some folks will like it, others will not, in large part because of the instrumentation and somewhat less imaginative percussion part. Personally, I like it-I think it builds on some of the best parts of Double Sextet, and overall the piece works quite well.
The performances are probably definitive-I've heard three other performances of DS, all of which involved eighth blackbird, and this is just like the others, but with better audio quality.
I think it would also be good to have a recording of the Mallet Quartet and Dance Patterns, the latter of which is already eight years old. I've heard them both, and while not as noteworthy as the two pieces on this album, deserve to be recorded.
One minor note: in some ways, I felt like the liner notes were one big advertisement for both eighth blackbird and, in particular, BOAC. Nothing wrong with that, but it felt out of place somewhat.
The recording of "Double Sextet" is flawless. The performance is every bit as energetic, lively, and driving as the live show I saw. The piece itself (regardless of the opinion of one reviewer below who, from his criticisms, I have to believe didn't actually listen to the piece) shows a definite evolution of Reich's compositional style. The harmonic rhythm is at times very quick, far quicker than in "Music for 18" or earlier Reich pieces, and it goes places Reich never used to go. In some sections there are even two different simultaneous and clashing tonalities between the sextets. I found it very effective and very interesting. The finale is also very satisfying, perhaps the most satisfying of all his pieces. I find myself starting part III about halfway through (with the piano coming in at 3:22) just to listen to it end.
The recording of 2x5, I think, suffers mildly on a couple of points. One, the recording is *very* dry, which to my ears gives it a lifeless quality that it never quite overcomes. In addition -- and it may just seem this way being on the same disc as the far more exacting 8BB performance -- the execution is just not quite satisfactory, mostly in terms of timing. As a result it never quite seems to achieve that effortless 'groove' that one really wants to hear in a Reich piece. Bear in mind, I'm talking about a very slight distinction that may be somewhat subjective. In fact, on a third listening I found myself growing more forgiving as the piece itself grew on me.
At any rate, this is the recording to beat for both pieces, obviously, and at least in the case of the Double Sextet, I don't see that ever happening.
this is the perfect starting point to dig into Reich's world. double sextet as perfectly executed Reich showcase, but the second piece is the gem here. purist may not like that Reich widens his spectrum in exactly this direction, still 2x5 belongs to the most impressive and emotionally most touching works (and, unlike many other pieces, very dynamic, just listen through and you'll really start to float in the second part!).
and, yes, perfect in exactly this instrumentation, while older guitar performances of Metheny sound too 70s Rock-ish, this is timeless and lifts amplified guitar and bass use off the Rock sound.
agreed, the thin (almost like a Roland drummachine) drum sounds and sparse use of it may sound odd at first (I had my doubts myself at first 2 listening rounds), but that's simply a new way of using drums, like Reich says in his comments, just to add colour, not using it as rhythm instrument.
exactly this CD, together with Different Trains (in fantastic Smith Quartet version, Signum Classics Rec!!!), the classic Music for 18 Musicians and New York Counterpoint/8 Lines (Nonesuch Recordings) is what you should get first, and then branch out for the 'rest'. Reich CDs are riducously cheap at the moment, so this is really value for money.
Steve Reich: Different Trains
Steve Reich: Music for 18 Musicians
Steve Reich: New York Counterpoint; Eight Lines; Four Organs
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I am wondering if the Pulitzer prize people were serious about this... because its not that great. Compared to al the other Reich stuff, its almost a joke. Read morePublished on February 2, 2011 by Roland
This is terrible...the 'New Work' of an old man with nothing new to say and just going thru the motions for money. No shame, but that's just the way it is. Read morePublished on November 16, 2010 by Milan Simich
When I bought the ECM recording of Reich's Music for 18 Musicians in 1978, the guy in the record store said "You just bought the weirdest record in the store. Read morePublished on October 28, 2010 by Jeff Abell
I have to agree with most music critics: Double Sextet is the synthesis of the very best of Steve Reich over the years, presented in a fresh, fantastic, musical masterpiece. Read morePublished on September 28, 2010 by Amazon Customer
I don't mean it to sound like a bad minimalist joke when I say that Steve Reich is repeating himself. But he's repeating himself. There's nothing new here. Read morePublished on September 15, 2010 by Tom From NY