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Music For 18 Musicians CD
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Genre: Classical Music
Media Format: Compact Disk
Release Date: 18-APR-2000
Top Customer Reviews
In order of preference for me, the recordings go ECM, RCA, and Nonesuch.
No recording of 18 quite captures the piece as it sounds live. (I've had the luck to see it twice with Steve Reich & Musicians at the San Francisco Symphony.) However, the ECM version comes close to duplicating the timbre of the real thing. To my ears, it sounds the most "live".
The RCA/Ensemble Modern recording is perhaps the best performed. Ensemble Modern emphasizes Reich's earlier philosophies about music as a process; they clearly delineate the various instruments and lines in the recording, and they properly accentuate the lead mallet lines. (I say "proper" because that's what it sounded like when I saw 18 performed live.) What this recording lacks in lush beauty, it gains in near-academic perfection.
The new Nonesuch recording was designed from the ground up to be a recording, not a live performance. Most instruments are close-mic'd, which gives the odd feeling of standing next to all of the instruments at the same time. I love it for its open spaces, surprising tempo, and stunning imaging of the mallet instruments. It is as lush and beautiful as the ECM recording, but I prefer the subtleties and pacing of the ECM more.
The performance is definitive. These musicians were all members of Reich's performing groups of the 70's. And ECM engineers have a genius for atmospheric sound that is perfect for this music. This is a delightful CD.
Along with Miles Davis' 'Kind of Blue', 'St. Matthew Passion', and Nancarrow's 'Studies', Music for 18 Musicians was for me one of those rare landmark musical events that dramatically changed the whole way I thought about music.
18 Musicians suits the characteristic sound of the ECM label perfectly. Of the three recordings now readily available (the other two being the Nonesuch and the RCA Victor) this is by far the best and most balanced. ECM also resisted the temptation to split the piece into separate tracks, resulting in a CD with one single track on it - which is how this piece should be heard. The cover art (which, incidentally is by Reich's wife, the artist Beryl Korot) is ideally suited to the wonderful, shimmering sonic experience that is 18 Musicians. Indeed, everything about this release is just right.
If you buy only one Minimalist CD in your life, then buy Music for 18 Musicians, and if you decide to buy it, make sure it's this recording!
-The new Reich ensemble recording on ECM (and also on vinyl)..., but slow and less organic than others available (e.g. the ECM recording). The sense of the overall tapestry of the work is diminished by the close miking one hears throughout. Certain little blips or phrases are artificially highlighted for too long. Too bad, because re-recordings of other works (such as Music for Mallets, Voices, and Organ) also seem to ephasize individual instruments above an overall wash from the ensemble without picking up on little bits of phrases from one instrument too much.
Recommendations: --For a first listen, the ECM recording is essential. It preserves the sense of this piece occurring in a performance space. Having heard the piece live twice, the role of reverb and the concert hall is considerable. Only the ECM recording comes close to hearing this piece live.
--If you want a dead-on reading, with maximum clarity of each line, I recommend the Ensemble Modern recording. Their performance is closer to what seems the natural tempo. Their mixing establishes the interplay between the parts very clearly without "artifically" highlighting certain parts too much, as seems to happen in Reich's second recording.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
You need a decent stereo to really enjoy this album. I did not know until I read the reviews that there are three recordings, and that explains why some I found online seemed so... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Davis
My favorite Steve Reich work! An amazing composition. I prefer the slightly slower, mellower pace of this recording to the fast pace of others. Highly recommended.Published 11 months ago by ama
When it comes to minimalism this is the granddaddy of all compositions. Tell your friends, tell your mother, tell Obama to listen to this.Published 12 months ago by Matthew
It's not just an important piece of music (which it is) -- it's very absorbing music: music which takes you into itself, and you'll find yourself having a different experience of... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Mark Carpenter