MINIMALIST JUKEBOX: WORKS BY STEVE REICH

Review by: ClassicsToday

Artistic Quality: 10

Sound Quality: 10

When you listen to this DG Concerts download you feel as if you are joining the audience of committed minimalism fans on March 26, 2006 in Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall. The live recording picks up their faintly audible presence, helping capture the sense that the flurry of notes, mechanistically locked to pulse and pattern though they may be, conveys communication between real players and real listeners. This chapter in the Los Angeles Philharmonic Minimalist Jukebox symposium and concert series presents three Steve Reich works that are well-known in the genre. It is this sense of presence that makes the download worth considering at the mid-range price of an iTunes album, whether you’re a seasoned Reich collector or an interested minimalist-music listener who doesn’t already own these works–in which case this recording is close to essential. All three works originate from 1979 to 1986, a pivotal period when Reich and others consciously achieved ways to add more expressivity to the style–hence, these are also pieces that should be represented in any decent collection of 20th-century music.

The performances are clean, vigorous, and joyful. Conductor Stefan Asbury keeps the pulse steady but not unduly rigid, balancing the often-busy texture to produce exceptional clarity. Synergy Vocals, the all-female quartet that sings Tehillim, is outstanding. Pure-sounding and fluent, they accomplish the essential interlocking of their parts with seeming effortlessness. These performances match the ECM reference recording of Tehillim and are a little better than the prior reference recordings of Movements (Nonesuch) and Variations (originally Philips, now a mid-price DG). The recording quality is open, natural, and full-ranged. After extracting the m4p downloads into CD format and burning them onto a music disc, the sound remained first-rate.

Downloads of the full album contain a PDF file of notes and cover art, though not in a size that fits into a CD box. For those who lack either Movements or Tehillim, these two works are available as individual downloads for $2.97 and $5.49, respectively. For Variations, you have to buy the whole download album at $9.99. (All prices are current as of June 10, 2006.)[6/12/2006]



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Recording Details:

Album Title: MINIMALIST JUKEBOX: WORKS BY STEVE REICH
Reference Recording: Tehillim: de Leeuw (ECM), This one

STEVE REICH - Variations for Winds, Strings, & Keyboards; Three Movements for Orchestra; Tehillim


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