Steve Reich - Phase to Face
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A student of Darius Milhaud and Luciano Berio, musician Steve Reich (born 1936) quickly developed a style all his own inspired by Baroque music, Bartok, Webern and Stravinsky, as well as jazz, traditional music (especially African), and Hebrew cantillation. As a trailblazing exponent of minimalist music, Reich rejected the characteristic complexity of mid-20th-century classical
harmony and tonality in order to make large-scale works from minimal materials a single chord, a brief musical motif, a spoken exclamation, thereby reconciling sacred and popular music. In this profile he looks back on the key stages of his 40-years lasting career, from the formation of his own group, Steve Reich and Musicians, to the American avant-garde he helped to create, from new video performances to his quasi-religious music. Despite his success and wide recognition Steve Reich has never renounced his independent spirit. This film is about the artist and his music. From the analogue tapes of his first recorded pieces to current technology of sampling and video. We see him at work and clips from his performances and concerts in Le Havre, Tokyo, Rome, New York and Manchester. Bonus: 'Talks in Tokyo with Steve Reich' & 'A brief History of Music by Steve Reich'
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It presents material in a structured manner as a evolution of his music and Reich himself presents his own ideas in a manner that can be followed as a progression covering not only his music but also touches up on his life experiences and general observations about the world in which he lived.
Pro shot. Reconstructed Fase - Piano Phase. There's a lot of food for thought here for an introduction to the composer and more! Excellent!
Reich is a vibrant and eloquent speaker, and the images that accompany the bits of music are arresting to watch. The directors of this video provide interesting visuals to snippets of some of Reich's most popular works, moving chronologically from his first 'tape/phase' piece "It's Gonna Rain" (1965) through his latest chamber piece "2x5" (2009). At less than one hour, the documentary only scratches the surface of Reich's abilities as a great composer.
Extras include a 'conversation' in Tokyo, where Reich asks the audience to hear some of his recordings, after which he provides insightful comments, and a 'brief history of music', in which Reich (during his interview) explains some of the changes that have taken place in music throughout the centuries. This DVD is a great way to begin to learn about Steve Reich, his influences, and the impact on society of his music.
This is a fine and informative documentary. It presents all of Reich's major pieces, and the composer takes us through each of the stylistic innovations of his career: from his accidental discovery of phasing music with the tape piece "Come Out" in 1965 to his addition of voices, appreciation of African drumming, references to the Jewish tradition, and melodies based on speech. Reich must have explained all this to interviewers many times before, but he retains his enthusiasm and recalls his musical discoveries with the same amazement he felt back then. Reich also reveals a great familiarity with popular music (saying that John Coltrane must be counted one of his teachers) and it's interesting to see how he bridges musical worlds without ever going for cheap effect or crossover gimmickry.
The DVD includes two extras. One is Reich's post-concert talk from the Tokyo performance of "Daniel Variations". Reich explains that he doesn't do lectures, preferring instead to play a recording of a piece that wasn't on the evening's programme, and then answer questions. So he plays "You Are (Variations)" and the filmmakers show the reaction of the Japanese crowd to the music. Answering questions from the audience, he talks about the use of technology (advocating that unknown artists establish a relationship with human performers to gain attention, "So what if you can put your digital music on MySpace if only 8 people are going to see it?") and how new music should be scored if amplification can replace a huge orchestral string section. The other bonus is left over material from the interview in Reich's home, where the composer gives his own (cyclical) view of the history of music. Surprisingly, Reich shows a deep respect for Schoenberg and Webern.