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  • Proverb / Nagoya Marimbas / City Life
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Proverb / Nagoya Marimbas / City Life

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Audio CD, October 15, 1996
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$54.99 $8.77

Dawes Dawes

1. Proverb
2. Nagoya Marimbas
3. City Life: 'Check It Out'
4. City Life: 'Pile Drive - Alarms'
5. City Life: 'It's Been A Honeymoon - Can't Take No Mo'
6. City Life: Heartbeats - Boats And Buoys
7. City Life: 'Heavy Smoke'

Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 15, 1996)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B000005J4E
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #162,448 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Samuel Richmond on September 16, 2001
Format: Audio CD
For the past twelve years Reich has labored in the shadow of his unassailable masterpiece, "Different Trains." Both its concision and its monumentality made that sampling exposition of Holocaust testimony the standard for the work Reich has accurately if immodestly claimed he was "born to do."

His more recent recorded compositions such as "The Cave" and the three works on this disc-- less visceral and emotional, perhaps, but no less powerful of insight-- have been less uniformly well received. In particular, "City Life" has been marginalized by some as a found-sound exercise in banality, utilizing performance techniques that sounded dated when the piece premiered in 1995.

The reason critics need to give it another listen has little to do with the awful coincidence in Reich's climactic choice of the earlier World Trade Center bombing aftermath as a sample source. It has a lot more to do with the sobering atmosphere progressively achieved throughout the first four movements-- a precarious balance of despair and indifference, equipoise and terror. Had this music reflected the events of 2001 rather than 1993, its composer needn't have changed a note.

With almost surgical understatement, Reich distills his stylistic hallmarks-- crystalline architecture, slow-burn intensity, razor-sharp asentimentality, and inexhaustable rhythmic drive-- into a musical observation of urban rage, unsparingly linking individual discontent to mass destruction.

No sides are taken here. Often skeptical of a composer's entitlement to expression for its own sake, Reich has always despised and successfully avoided musical agitprop.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 20, 1999
Format: Audio CD
Avid listeners of Reich will recognize how this album is an evolution from his earlier minimalist tendencies, making for an incredible listening experience. Having many Reich CDs in my collection, "Proverb" is arguably my favorite work - it takes the type of attention to space from earlier works such as "18" or the Counterpoint series and guides it in a newer and fresher direction, filled with quiet beauty, grace, and peace. "City Life" can be seen similarly as an extention from "Different Trains", using samples from the people and sounds of New York City to describe the tragedy of the World Trade Center bombing. The piece is nothing short of brilliant. "Nagoya Marimbas" takes his earlier Phase works and makes it more complex, weaving melodies and harmonies in a rhythmically challenging close canon, giving the work the type of energy for which Reich is well known for and is often imitated, but unmatched. In short, this album is an essential for Reich and "post-minimalist" fans.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By FloydWaters on December 17, 2003
Format: Audio CD
This CD was my first venture into the works of Steve Reich, and is probably my most frequently listened to. I have to say, these are some incredibly striking and graceful pieces to listen to. Rather than relying on traditional chordal progressions and arrangements to progress the piece, this is instead a study in pattern and melody, and (during City Life) the use of everyday sound. Being a rock fan as well as classical, I find it interesting to see the latter entering into classical music as well as where I've experienced it before (in Pink Floyd, Rick Wright, and other rock artists' works).
"Proverb" is a very interesting, mellow piece with a single lyric: "How small a thought it takes to fill a whole life." This piece recalls the medieval forms such as the organum--but with rhythms and dissonances that the ancients would have never dared explore. The lyric itself seems to be a statement of the principles of minimalism...something upon which the listener is compelled to meditate during the course of this piece. "Nagoya Marimbas", while not the most striking statement is a very interesting study of patterns--the changes are subtle and occur just in time to prevent the piece from becoming monotonous. I imagine that to play this piece would require great concentration on the part of each player, to stay with their individual contribution to it.
By far, "City Life" is the most compelling piece, and the one I initially bought this CD for. The use of sampled sounds, combined with the textures of the music itself, truly evokes the image of New York City, from the frenzied rush of cars in the first movement to the brooding ambience of the harbor, and finally, the potential for disaster reflected in the last movement.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Christopher Coleman on December 6, 2000
Format: Audio CD
I have great respect for Steve Reich and although I haven't liked everything he has done, he has composed pieces such as Come Out, Different Trains, and Tehillim which are, I believe, among the finest works of the century. He has continued to evolve stylistically while maintaining certain traits--his music is always rhythmically and sonorously interesting. I was stunned by Different Trains--it is a masterful, truly groundbreaking work in the way that it blends speech and music, and emotionally it is very effective. Come Out is similarly innovative and emotionally successful. Obviously not every piece by a single composer can be thus, but I have to disagree with the other critics here about the overall quality of the works on this CD. None of them break new ground--true, Reich uses live samplers on City Life, but that's been done for ages in popular music. And frankly, although they were all interesting for the moment, none of the pieces really engaged me the way other works of his have. I found my attention wandering, and one of the movements of City Life was downright annoying, influenced as it seems to be by rap. Old hat by now...
There are three pieces on this disc. The first, Proverb, is reminiscent of Tehillim, although on a smaller scale. At something over 14 mnutes, it seemed too long for the musical material; but parts of it, particularly the beginning, are quite lovely. However, there is very little contrast in the piece--dynamics play almost no part whatsoever, tempo is consistent although there is some slight change in levels of rhythmic activity. Reich mentions the inspiration of Perotin, although he does not elaborate further; clearly this piece is free of Romantic gesture.
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