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Music for 18 Musicians


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Audio CD, March 31, 1998
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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The pulsations of Steve Reich's landmark Music for 18 Musicians signify a New Music precipice. Where so much music after World War II explored extremes of tone, time, and register, Reich--and some of his colleagues in the 1960s and after--gravitated towards immersion in repetitions and telescoped focus on tonal areas. The combination of piano, vibraphone, marimba, xylophone, clarinets, violin, cello, and female voices is intoxicating in Reich's hands. Reich creates a middle-register, ringing vamp with burnished reed palpitations and, eventually, quick, rolling piano figures emerge in tandem with the percussion. This recording is the second-best known, next to the ECM Records version of the piece, and is warm and colorfully tingling. --Andrew Bartlett

1. Pulses
2. Section I
3. Section II
4. Section IIIA
5. Section IIIB
6. Section IV
7. Section V
8. Section VI
9. Section VII
10. Section VIII
11. Section IX
12. Section X
13. Section XI
14. Pulses

Product Details

  • Performer: Evan Ziporyn, Leslie Scott, Jeanne LeBlanc, Edmund Niemann, Garry Kvistad, et al.
  • Composer: Steve Reich
  • Audio CD (March 31, 1998)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B000006E4C
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #248,105 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

91 of 91 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 11, 2001
Format: Audio CD
I own all three recordings of Music For 18 Musicians; I suggest that for anyone who is truly interested in the work, owning all three is a must.
In order of preference for me, the recordings go ECM, RCA, and Nonesuch.
No recording of 18 quite captures the piece as it sounds live. (I've had the luck to see it twice with Steve Reich & Musicians at the San Francisco Symphony.) However, the ECM version comes close to duplicating the timbre of the real thing. To my ears, it sounds the most "live".
The RCA/Ensemble Modern recording is perhaps the best performed. Ensemble Modern emphasizes Reich's earlier philosophies about music as a process; they clearly delineate the various instruments and lines in the recording, and they properly accentuate the lead mallet lines. (I say "proper" because that's what it sounded like when I saw 18 performed live.) What this recording lacks in lush beauty, it gains in near-academic perfection.
The new Nonesuch recording was designed from the ground up to be a recording, not a live performance. Most instruments are close-mic'd, which gives the odd feeling of standing next to all of the instruments at the same time. I love it for its open spaces, surprising tempo, and stunning imaging of the mallet instruments. It is as lush and beautiful as the ECM recording, but I prefer the subtleties and pacing of the ECM more.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Forbes on June 13, 2002
Format: Audio CD
This CD can either send you into a deep trance or a screaming fit, depending on your tolerance for repetative minimalist music. Music for 18 Musicians is Reich's great transition work from the small ensemble pieces of the 70's to his large scale work of the 80's and 90's. It's densely layered repeating patterns gradually shift in and out of phase with each other, creating a kalideoscope of timbres, and endlessly varied crossrhythms. To listen to this piece with an open mind is to enter an entrancing world of color light and imagination. Reich proves why he is the most imitated and inimitable of all of the minimalists.
The performance is definitive. These musicians were all members of Reich's performing groups of the 70's. And ECM engineers have a genius for atmospheric sound that is perfect for this music. This is a delightful CD.
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful By enolcmelca on February 2, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Many other reviews comment generally on the beauty of this piece. Here are my concise views and recommendations:
-The new Reich ensemble recording on ECM (and also on vinyl)..., but slow and less organic than others available (e.g. the ECM recording). The sense of the overall tapestry of the work is diminished by the close miking one hears throughout. Certain little blips or phrases are artificially highlighted for too long. Too bad, because re-recordings of other works (such as Music for Mallets, Voices, and Organ) also seem to ephasize individual instruments above an overall wash from the ensemble without picking up on little bits of phrases from one instrument too much.
Recommendations: --For a first listen, the ECM recording is essential. It preserves the sense of this piece occurring in a performance space. Having heard the piece live twice, the role of reverb and the concert hall is considerable. Only the ECM recording comes close to hearing this piece live.
--If you want a dead-on reading, with maximum clarity of each line, I recommend the Ensemble Modern recording. Their performance is closer to what seems the natural tempo. Their mixing establishes the interplay between the parts very clearly without "artifically" highlighting certain parts too much, as seems to happen in Reich's second recording.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 29, 2000
Format: Audio CD
There are few pieces in my opinion that one can continually return to and still be as moved as when they heard it for the first time, never tiring of hearing the same music; but for me, this was one such piece. Seven years after originally buying it, 'Music for 18 Musicians' still sounds as fresh as on that first day.
Along with Miles Davis' 'Kind of Blue', 'St. Matthew Passion', and Nancarrow's 'Studies', Music for 18 Musicians was for me one of those rare landmark musical events that dramatically changed the whole way I thought about music.
18 Musicians suits the characteristic sound of the ECM label perfectly. Of the three recordings now readily available (the other two being the Nonesuch and the RCA Victor) this is by far the best and most balanced. ECM also resisted the temptation to split the piece into separate tracks, resulting in a CD with one single track on it - which is how this piece should be heard. The cover art (which, incidentally is by Reich's wife, the artist Beryl Korot) is ideally suited to the wonderful, shimmering sonic experience that is 18 Musicians. Indeed, everything about this release is just right.
If you buy only one Minimalist CD in your life, then buy Music for 18 Musicians, and if you decide to buy it, make sure it's this recording!
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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful By I X Key on March 12, 2003
Format: Audio CD
This recording of Reich's most canonical piece is perfect. & the music is absolutely brilliant. It has everything Reich did with compositional structure to that point; rests are gradually replaced with notes over a thick, juicy fabric of repetition. The musicians phase. There's also a new idea for him in this piece: music determined by the length of human breath, as the woodwinds periodically pulse a note, & each player pulses it just until s/he runs out of breathn. The music also is incredibly beautiful, in a way exceptionally modern & also eternally emotional. Get this cd. It's an absolute must for any Reich or minimalist collection.
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