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Reich: Tehillim / The Desert Music

Steve Reich , Alarm Will Sound , Alan Pierson , Ossia Audio CD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

Price: $17.35 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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MP3 Music, 11 Songs, 2011 $8.99  
Audio CD, 2002 $17.35  

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
listen  1. Tehillim: I. Psalm 19:2-5, "Hashamyim mehsapehrim kavohd Kail"11:13Album Only
listen  2. Tehillim: II. Psalm 34:13-15, "Mihaish heychahfaytz chayyim" 5:52$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Tehillim: III. Psalm 18:26-27, "Imchahsid, titchahsahd" 7:47$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Tehillim: IV. Psalm 150:4-6, "Halleluhu batof umachol" 5:59$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. The Desert Music: I. Fast 7:09$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. The Desert Music: II. Moderate 5:51$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. The Desert Music: III. Part I: Slow 6:55$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  8. The Desert Music: III. Part II: Moderate 5:12$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  9. The Desert Music: III. Part III: Slow 5:58$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen10. The Desert Music: IV. Moderate 3:03$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen11. The Desert Music: V. Fast 9:38Album Only

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Reich: Tehillim / The Desert Music + Music for 18 Musicians + Steve Reich: Octet / Music for a Large Ensemble / Violin Phase
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Product Details

  • Performer: Ossia
  • Conductor: Alan Pierson
  • Audio CD (September 10, 2002)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Cantaloupe
  • ASIN: B00006H6B5
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #104,541 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

Reich's music moves along in a stately, orderly, almost mathematical way, so one wouldn't expect a wide variety of interpretive styles in different performances. Still, this recording of Tehillim, at least the third issued so far, seems sharper in focus and rhythm than the premiere ECM recording, the only one to include the composer's participation. The Desert Music sounds somewhat different here than in the premiere Nonesuch recording by Michael Tilson Thomas with the Brooklyn Philharmonic and Chorus, the ensembles it was written for. This "revised chamber version" by the composer from 2001 uses smaller forces, losing something in grandeur while gaining rhythmic clarity. It's becoming obvious that Reich's music will survive his own performing career and lifetime, and here is an example of a disc with no performing ties to the composer which is still extremely satisfying. It is also very well-recorded and generously programmed, since the premiere recordings of the two works took up a disc each. Cantaloupe Music provides sung texts and lists of the performers but not a word of program notes, a liability to this otherwise admirable release. --Leslie Gerber

Product Description

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! February 12, 2003
Format:Audio CD
I've loved this music since it first appeared, back in the early '80s, and I second the praise that others have delivered about this recording. It has a clarity and immediacy missing from previous outings (the musicians were probably recorded in the multi-miked "pop" style rather than the style usually adopted for "classical" musicians). The percussion in Tehillim is snap-crackle-pop sharp, allowing the ear to carefully distinguish the sounds of the various percussion instruments, in comparison to the muddled sound of the Schoenberg Ensemble version. These percussionists have this music in their blood. They are tremendously well-rehearsed, and their youthful stamina pays off in the momentum they maintain throughout the performances. An extra string quartet in Tehillim allows melodies and sustained chords to assume more prominence.
Meanwhile, the singers' voices in The Desert Music are more individually characterized than before, allowing you to hear the text more clearly in voices that are dramatically free of any vibrato whatsoever, giving the singing a pure but momentous sound. I agree that the larger body of strings used in MTT's version is missed in the opening of the last movement, but otherwise I prefer the fiddlers in this version for their cracker jack playing. Quicker tempos accentuate the exuberance of Reich's syncopations. (This performance shaves 5 minutes off MTT's version.)
If I could only have one version of these pieces this would be the one I would buy. Actually, this recording is a better deal than what is currently available: The Desert Music on Nonesuch is unaccompanied by a second work, a situation which is also true of Tehillim on ECM.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Room for Tilson-Thomas, too ... November 30, 2002
Format:Audio CD
Although entirely persuaded by the stimulating customer reviews of this magical disc, I'm inclined to regard it as a companion to, rather than an "improvement" on, Tilson-Thomas's recording of "The Desert Music". Certainly, Pierson's daring tempos and the crystal-clear articulation of his remarkable young players make for a radically more detailed sound-frame (although I wondered whether the voices were perhaps too forwardly placed). The "chamber" reduction has a wonderful intimacy and it is virtually impossible to find fault with such a perceptive, intellectually cogent performance.
And yet I do miss some of the craggy grandeur of Tilson-Thomas's reading. Under his direction, the final (fast) section seems to be imbued with a curious, unearthly luminosity. There is also a ripeness of articulation (particularly in the brass at key moments) not found in the brighter, more analytical new recording.
So, if we can happily oscillate between Klemperer and Eliot-Gardiner in Beethoven (well, I can, but I drink a lot), why can't we do the same with Tilson-Thomas and Pierson in Reich?
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SR's best works December 2, 2002
Format:Audio CD
Here we have the two best works (IMO) that Steve Reich has composed performed with a fresh interpretation.
I still prefer the premier recording of Tehillim that was released on the ECM label. This version is improved with greater transparency, a faster tempo, crisp recording and a tighter performance overall. However there is just something missing here in that I find the ECM performance just to be more exciting overall. The vocalists on the ECM recording convey more passion in my opinion. Still this is a fine re-interpretation of Tehillim.
The new recording of the Desert Music is much improved over the original recording done by Michael Tilson Thomas. Not that MTT's recording is bad mind you - quite the opposite. I was in love with the Desert Music, believing that it was (is) Reich's best work, and that was the MTT original recording that I was in love with. However, this new interpretation just makes a great work even better. The tempo is much faster which enhances the impact of the work and just seems to fit the music better than the more leisurely pace set by MTT. Also the smaller forces involved bring more clarity to the score.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly disciplined minimalism September 29, 2006
Format:Audio CD
This album brings together two works written by American minimalist composer Steve Reich in the early 1980's including Tehillim (1981) and The Desert Music (1984). As they appear on this album, Tehillim was performed by the ensemble Ossia, while The Desert Music was performed by Alarm will Sound and Ossia. Both pieces were recorded sometime around 1999-2002 and were directed by Alan Pierson. In general, this is fantastic minimalism and I especially appreciate its austere, acoustic qualities.

The musicians on this album are far too numerous to mention individually, but the dominant instruments include the human voice, mallet instruments, and string bass (mostly bowed parts), in addition to a host of woodwinds, strings, brass, and keyboards (even though a prog rock fan, I have to admit that the absence of electric instruments is a refreshing change of pace). Steve's pieces require a great deal of technical ability, and there are some dazzlingly intricate group vocal parts on Telhillim, although the performances throughout are top shelf.

Tehillim itself is written in four movements principally for voice (high soprano, lyric sopranos, and an alto) although other instruments such as the string bass and various percussion instruments are featured. The piece consists largely of ostinato networks performed by the singers; is extremely long (30'51"); and possesses a subtle rhythmic element. The Desert Music (43'47") is somewhat different and is presented in (at least I think so) an arch form (A-B-C-B-A). The seven movements are pretty much differentiated by tempo.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This is My Favorite Album
I don't say that lightly. These are the best arrangements of these two pieces, and this arrangement of The Desert Music is conceptually Reich's greatest work in my opinion. Read more
Published 18 months ago by W. Joness
1.0 out of 5 stars Absolutelly Awful and Depressed stuff.
I understand Tastes are Different however i must to admit that this so Called " music " is absolutelly Awful and Depressed. Read more
Published on March 10, 2009 by Elena Munteanu
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW is right
I have the original vinyl recording of these works from the eighties. They are respectable and very respectful. Read more
Published on October 22, 2007 by Mad Dog
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing short of amazing
It seems superfluous to pile-on to all this praise, but in this case it's well deserved. I too was lucky enough to be in the audience at Miller Theatre the night these bold... Read more
Published on November 10, 2003 by Perry Townsend
5.0 out of 5 stars very good music
Steve Reich is the greatest mainstream minimalist composer of our time.
This recording of Tehillim I think is the best one yet, & I suppose since this is the most recently... Read more
Published on April 21, 2003 by I X Key
5.0 out of 5 stars The cleanest recording of Tehillim
The recording of Tehillim on this CD is the best I've heard, an absolute tour de force for the instrumentalists and especially the singers. Read more
Published on December 30, 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow, indeed! And good program notes on the web.
I concur with the other reviewers' enthusiasm here. I first heard "Tehillim" in college 20 years ago when it was required (! Read more
Published on November 12, 2002 by Bradley P. Lehman
5.0 out of 5 stars Reich calls this "An Absolute Knockout"
Steve Reich has said of this recording:

"A truly outstanding ensemble. Their recording of Tehillim is an absolute knockout... Read more
Published on October 7, 2002 by Music Lover
5.0 out of 5 stars Old Dog/New Dog
You may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but sometimes bringing a frisky new puppy home can coax a few spectacular post-geriatric Frisbee leaps out of an elder canine. Read more
Published on September 23, 2002 by Jerry Bowles
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