Steve Reich recalls the approach and sound of some of his most celebrated early work-groundbreaking repertoire like The Desert Music, Tehillim,, and Music For 18 Musicians-while creating vital, spiritually stirring new music for right now. The four-movement title piece, written for voices and live instruments including woodwinds, pianos, marimbas, vibraphones and strings and performed by the Los Angeles Master Chorale, premiered at the Walt Disney Concert Hall to extraordinary reviews.
This new CD of Steve Reich's music pairs two unusually scored pieces. "You Are (Variations)" is set for three sopranos, an alto and two tenors, with flutes, oboe, English horn, two marimbas, clarinets, four pianos, vibraphone and strings. The texts, in Hebrew and English, are philosophical meditations: "You are whoever your thoughts are," "Say little and do much," etc. The resulting work is fascinating, the textures unique and fresh, the experience haunting and captivating, with the voices used as another significant instrumental part. Equally fine is the second work, "Cello Counterpoint," scored for eight cellos (seven pre-recorded and one played "live" by soloist Maya Baiser), which is noteworthy for its complex rhythms, use of counterpoint, and handsome lyrical solo cello line floating above it all. Reich fans will love this; the uninitiated will want to give it a try. --Robert Levine