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Music for 18 Musicians

Steve Reich , Steve Reich Ensemble Audio CD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)

Price: $15.33 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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listen  1. Reich: Pulse - Sections I-X - Pulse56:31Album Only

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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Steve Reich Ensemble
  • Composer: Steve Reich
  • Audio CD (April 18, 2000)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Ecm Records
  • ASIN: B000026258
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,756 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This has to be Steve Reich's most difficult work to perform; but he's done it. Several times. Music for 18 Musicians is for violin, cello, two clarinets doubling bass clarinet, four women's voices, four pianos, three marimbas, two xylophones, and a metallophone (vibraphone with no motor). It's a 1974 composition that focuses entirely on the rich staccato that gives minimalism its unique sound. However, Reich turns all of this into actual music by adding the richness of the metallophone and the women's voices. Whatever else people may have said about minimalism, pro or con, a work such as Music for 18 Musicians demonstrates its legitimacy. --Paul Cook

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
83 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Most "Live" Of The Three Recordings Of 18 December 11, 2001
By A Customer
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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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Minimalist Milestone 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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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Consider other recordings... February 2, 2001
Format:Audio CD
Many other reviews comment generally on the beauty of this piece. Here are my concise views and recommendations:
-This recording is sonically precise, 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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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly an Experience. Still the best recording by far. 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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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
By I X Key
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Working Man's Riech
I heard this on Maine Public Radio several years ago and was surprised how much I liked it. I now play it as a motivating lift in my pottery studio, especially with repetitive... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Scott Currie
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent version of this work
This version is recorded as a single file and is not broken into pieces. An excellent version of this work.
Published 2 months ago by Peter A. Losee
5.0 out of 5 stars Listening to this right now, actually.
Had this album for several years. It's a great introduction to minimal music, and surprises people sometimes with how easy it is to listen to. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Ian Walker
5.0 out of 5 stars Birthday gift for hubby
He has been listening to it every night and plays this a background music when he is working and needs to concentrate.
Published 7 months ago by Kathy Lamourine
5.0 out of 5 stars Landmark recording - cannot be categorized easily
I became a big fan of Steve Reich after hearing The Desert Music when it was initially released. It was only a matter of time before I came across 18 musicians and bought a copy of... Read more
Published 21 months ago by wEEpstah
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible
Today I had one of those moments of discovery. I was watching Amazon's video interview of Michael Chabon, on the page for Telegraph Avenue , the marvelous book which I just started... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Jeff Rapson
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic recording of a classic 20th century work
A number of years ago I discovered this piece as a listener of rock and electronic music. For the longest time there was no other classical music that interested me - this was the... Read more
Published on January 25, 2012 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterwork! The best rendition
This beautiful ECM edition captures perfectly the space of the whole piece like no other edition and it represent for me the original "Music for 18 musicians" as it should be... Read more
Published on December 24, 2011 by pn
5.0 out of 5 stars Hypnotic yet human; one of the finest minimalist compositions
I've been a big fan of the original electronic groups Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream, among others, since the 70s, and it amazes me that almost none of their fans never mention this... Read more
Published on March 13, 2010 by K. Swanson
5.0 out of 5 stars a 20th C great
I used to be in the music business before I went into journalism, and I have to say that I must have listened to this seminal recording more than 50 times in the last 20 years and... Read more
Published on December 12, 2009 by Kushka53
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