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Steve Reich: Six Pianos; Terry Riley: In C

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Audio CD, October 11, 1990
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Editorial Reviews

Two pioneering works of Minimalism appear on this disc. Riley probably started the movement with In C (1964), which allows for any instrumentation (here, six pianos) and suggests no limitations on tempo, dynamics, number of performers, or duration. Everything unfolds around the octave C. (The score is not expressed through standard musical notation; instead, each instrumental role is framed in an isolated "statement," itself just a bar or two long.) More "musical" is Reich's Six Pianos (1973), later in 1974 done as Six Marimbas. It's all about percussion and phase shifting. These belong in any collection. --Paul Cook
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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Piano Circus
  • Audio CD (October 11, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Argo / Decca
  • ASIN: B000004131
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #612,000 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Discophage TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 28, 2011
Format: Audio CD
The ensemble made up of six (then young) pianists and called Piano Circus was formed in 1989, specifically to perform Reich's Six Pianos. The ensemble is still in existence today, although all its personnel has changed. Since the repertoire for six pianos was, obviously, fairly limited, they embarked upon numerous commissions, with a preference apparently for music of the minimalist/repetitive kind. They recorded a handful of CDs for Argo back then, among which I've reviewed Piano Circus: Fitkin: Sextet / Nyman: 1-100 / Seddon: 16 / Rackham: Which ever way your nose bends. This one, with Reich's Six Pianos and Riley's "In C", was naturally their debutante recording.

I'm not usually a great fan of the repetitive minimalism of (in order of decreasing distaste) Glass, Adams, Reich and Riley. It is not so much the repetition I mind - like everybody I love Ravel's Bolero - but what I feel to be a constant use of trite and saccharine harmonies and melodies. But these two pieces, among the most seminal compositions of repetitive minimalism ("in C" more or less created it in 1968, see my review of Terry Riley: In C), teem with energy and are hugely exciting.

Reich made the first recording of Six Pianos in 1974, on DG, Reich: Drumming; Six Pianos; Music for Mallet Instruments, Voices and Organ (it is evidently the same version that is on B000025WTH and B000066I9C).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By music lover on May 16, 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The recording here of Six Pianos is fine - I think Piano Circus got together in order to play it, so one could expect them to set a standard for the performance of this piece. The recording is clear enough, I think one doesn't want too much clarity with a phase piece where the sounds of each piano must merge and interact. The problem with their performance of In C is that it comes across as rather mechanical and relentless. By definition, of course, In C can be performed in many different ways, and still survive. There are a lot of In C recordings out there now (or get some friends together and perform it yourselves, it doesn't require incredible ability) and this isn't my favourite. But it is worth hearing and (just about) having in my opinion
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