Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Three Best Recordings of the Year # 2 Steve Reich

I, for one, am glad to see some new classical recordings released on LP. Being of a certain age, I grew up on LPs and when I began collecting them again, I again relished the feel and heft of the big 12-in circles of vinyl. I have few new release LPs, they tend to be pricy, but every once in a while, it is worth it.

This Nonesuch release seems to retail for around $30 US, less than some I have seen. I, for one, to repeat that phrase, am a big fan of Steve Reich. Yes, I can not take hours of it, heck hours of Beethoven or Dvořák can drive me nuts. Maybe I am blessed with an ear that can catch the subtle changes as the piece goes on. I love the hypnotic rhythm and bright colors, a welcome contrast to some of the darker, heavy music to which I often listen. This is music to nod your head to, tap your foot and even conduct as if you are the maestro on the podium. 

This disc contains two works, "Runner" (2016) first performed as a choreographed piece in London and "Music for Ensembles" (2018) Commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and a consortium of other orchestras including New York, San Francisco, London, Sydney and Baltic Philharmonic. This and "Runner" are recorded by the LA Philharmonic, under the wonderful Susanna Mälkki, who gave the world premiere of "Music for Ensembles." 

The two works feed off each other. In the enclosed notes (O how I love liner notes I can actually see, rather than the microscopic ones on CDs) Reich tells interviewed David Lang that the works are indeed intertwined and that he wanted to compose a second "Runner." That he did, an extension of the previous work in the same format 1) Sixteenths, 2) Eights, 3) Quarters, 4) Eights, 5) Sixteenths. The arch symmetry and progression of pulse is perfectly realized. Not a real long disc, but just fun, colorful and well recorded. The vinyl was flawless and heavy, with excellent notes as mentioned. Minimalist fans, this is your “disc of the year!”