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Reich: Triple Quartet, Music for a Large Ensemble, Electric Guitar Phase
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ACTUAL NEW MATERIAL (15 minutes)
"Triple Quartet": A slight improvement over other recent ventures ("The Cave," "City Life"), however quite grating to listen to... a lack of critical rhythmic interest with static mildly dissonant harmonic content combines for an unrewarding listen that seems to go on for longer than the 14 minutes it actually lasts. A major disappointment compared to "Different Trains," the previous Kronos collaboration.
RECYCLED FILLER MATERIAL (40 minutes)
1. "Electric Guitar Phase": When this same piece is heard as "Violin Phase" (on the 1980 ECM recording) it's long and somewhat tedious yet rewarding upon further listening with an exciting virtuoso feel that a live violinist brings to the table. As performed on overdubbed electric guitars, it is devoid of humanity and fire, losing all hope of holding the listeners attention for the duration. Why this piece seemed worth recording on electric guitar is beyond me. Ugh.
2. "Music for a Large Ensemble": This arrangement/performance is a little cleaner and more transparent than its ECM cousin (that same record that had "Violin Phase" on it. Hmmm.) You can hear some details here that weren't as apparent on the older recording. However, despite the shiny finish, this performance seems to lack the fresh energy and attack heard on the ECM version. So an interesting listen for the overly Reich-obsessed, but nothing revelatory.
3. "Tokyo/Vermont Counterpoint": Completely inferior to the version for flutes as recorded by Ransom Wilson.Read more ›
Electric guitar phase is amazing. I'd only heard its origional version for violin a few times and the middle and ending were too muddy. The treble and subtle harmonic overtones on the guitar are much better. The best thing about the phasing technique though is that rush you get everytime a new phase locks in. Wow!
I agree with the reviewer below who noticed that the 'Large Ensemble' was not as tight as they could be. The sheer syncopation written into this piece demands aboslute precision and I came away feeling that it hadn't been achieved here. In contrast, I could have done with a less tight vermont counterpoint. THe beauty of all Reich's couterpoint works have been that they allow the ear to 'pick' between following the whole or an individual line. I found this impossible to do here.
THe anchor of the CD (Triple Quartet) was brilliant. I wish that the two other versions (orchestral string section and three quartets live) could've been on the CD as well. In closing the first two peices are the meat and potatoes. The last two peices despite in my opinion their performance flaws, serve as a worthy soup and salad.
Instead of going in order of the tracks on the disc, let me go in order of the date of composition of each piece.
Electric Guitar Phase, though new in this orchestration, is of course 1967's Violin Phase reborn...This might be Reich's most static piece for tradional instruments (that is, besides early pieces for tape or "pendulum music")...For me, the original version of this piece never quite worked - the articulations possible on violin kept it from really "locking in"...This version has solved that problem completely...
The sharp attack on each note or dyad when done on electric guitars makes every new pattern clearer than any violinist could hope for...it's truly a revelation to hear this piece work so well. I always thought "piano phase" to be the best of Reich's phase pieces...I was wrong. This new recording should make listeners really sit up and take note - classical music ain't what it used to be, and thank G-d...one of our greatest composer's best pieces turns out to be for a bunch of electric guitars!
The next work (chronologically) is "Large Ensemble"...compared to the old ECM recording, I'm not convinced that this ensemble is playing as tightly as this piece needs them to...but at the same time, the sound quality is of course much better and warmer than the old recording. This one you can judge for yourself. I haven't totally made up my mind one way or another on this one...Read more ›
The next piece, on the other hand, may be one of the most unlistenably strident pieces Reich has ever written. It's 'Electric Guitar Phase,' a new adaptation of his `Violin Phase' (1967) performed on distorted electric guitar. Fans of Reich's phase-music know that its glacially slow development can be truly exhilirating, and will take immediately to the fresh spin this new instrumentation puts on a classic piece; those less familiar should consider themselves warned--it can also, depending on the listener, be EXCRUCIATING. (Me? Well, I love it.)
The last two pieces, originally composed within a few years of each other, fall somewhere between the first two both chronologically and stylistically--much easier on the ears than Electric Guitar Phase, but also more recognizably "minimalistic" than the Triple Quartet. `Music for Large Ensemble' is cerebral and pleasant, and `Tokyo/Vermont Counterpoint' (an adaptation of `Vermont Counterpoint' from flutes to electronic percussion) is charmingly silly and just as smart. Nothing really shocking there, but a handsome end to a very interesting set of recordings.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This Triple Quartet For a Large ensemble is simply one of master piece of Steve Reich. Try it and enjoy.Published on March 8, 2014 by Ronan Loriquet
From the sharp, discerning Triple Quartet, to Tokyo-Vermont Counterpoint, this CD is worth hearing to see an insight into Reich's later works, (starting with Triple Quartet), and... Read morePublished on June 10, 2004 by Jonny B
The rest of it is actually pretty boring. not boring like the desert music though so it's okay.Published on May 21, 2003 by Matthew G. Taylor
Steve Reich is such a great creative genius. The title piece, Triple Quartet, is very new music for Steve Reich. Read morePublished on March 12, 2003 by I X Key
Here you get a lot of Reich minimalist styles over the years.
Kronos play -as usual- well on this one in Bartok style and they taped themself and overdubbed it with a stunning... Read more
Here Steve Reich offers a refreshed experiencing of the old pieces Violin Phase & Music for a Large Ensemble. Read morePublished on March 14, 2002
While Philip Glass continues to crank out formulaic mush that sounds like everything else he's written, Steve Reich has continued to evolve and change as a composer. Read morePublished on October 29, 2001 by Jeff Abell