One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here
 

 

International mailing


  Founder: Len Mullenger              Founding Editor: Rob Barnett              Contact Seen and Heard here

Some items
to consider


.
La Mer Ticciati

Eriks EŠENVALDS

Detlev GLANERT

Jaw-dropping

simply marvellous

Outstanding music

Elite treatment

some joyous Gershwin


Bartok String Quartets
uniquely sensitive


Cantatas for Soprano

 

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers


Support us financially by purchasing this from

Steve REICH (b.1936)
Clapping Music [3:37]
Music for Pieces of Wood [11:42]
Sextet [27:47]
LSO Percussion Ensemble
rec. 30 October 2015, LSO St. Luke’s London
LSO LIVE LSO5073 [43:06]

Earlier this year Steve Reich undertook something of a world tour in the company of the London Sinfonietta. I attended their concert in Singapore and was impressed that the Esplanade concert hall was packed to the rafters with adoring fans, whose ecstatic reception of Reich was more what you might expect from fans at a rock concert. That the audience sat spellbound through the concert and remained in their droves afterwards in the hope of snatching a selfie with or, at least an autograph from, the Great Man revealed a fact which, I think, we tend to forget now that Reich has moved into the ranks of Grand Old Men of music. His music has something which profoundly resonates with a generation brought up on instant gratification, whether in the fields of fast food, visual entertainment or music. Almost two hours of uninterrupted Minimalism was lapped up by an Asian audience comprising a significant number of school-age children who clearly could have sat entranced through two hours more.

No chance of that here, with a disc running less than three quarters of an hour. But we must not look a gift horse in the mouth, and any new recording of Reich is worth serious consideration, especially when it comes from such an eminent band as the LSO.

Reich opened his Singapore concert by performing, alongside a colleague, his iconic Clapping Music. Witnessing the composer live on stage as well as seeing in action a most fascinating intellectual musical experiment is one thing, listening to it on a CD is something else altogether, and I remain unconvinced that the aural charms of Clapping Music are sufficient to make it really viable on CD.

To a certain extent, the same applies to Music for Pieces of Wood, dating from 1973 (the year after Clapping Music) and exercising the same intellectual and visual stimuli. On CD it sounds just like so many ticking clocks minus the allure of the occasional chime.

The important thing on this CD is the Sextet for pianos, vibraphones, marimbas, synthesisers and various untuned percussion, played by six players who move around the ensemble switching between instruments. This live performance from the LSO is notable for the subtlety of the playing, the interweaving and overlapping textures delicately delivered with an almost caressing intimacy which very quickly draws you into this world and induces an almost hypnotic trance-like state. The changes of pitch, pattern and colour set against a back drop of continual, pattering movement, come as moments of intense joy while the magical sound created by these instruments has an almost physical beauty.

Perhaps not so well represented on disc as some of Reich’s other works, the Sextet has nevertheless fared very well; and there is always the CPO recording of Reich’s own ensemble to use as a yardstick. Perhaps the very mean playing time and the two make-up pieces would not naturally make this a first choice in the face of the CPO disc (not to mention the excellent Nonesuch disc from Nexus which Reich directed the year the work was written – and while that has an even shorter playing time, it does pair the Sextet with the aurally–alluring Six Marimbas). But the LSO Percussion Ensemble does convey a considerable amount of magic and delicacy, and the recording is very good indeed.

Marc Rochester



 




Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and get a free CD

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical



Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger