Steve Reich Disney Hall Concert Among "Music's Memorable Experiences" (LA Times), "Nothing Short of Transcendent" (Variety)
Steve Reich joined Bang on a Can All-Stars for the start of the group's 25th anniversary tour and a celebration of the composer's 75th birthday with an all-Reich program of concerts at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles on Tuesday and at UC San Diego's Conrad Prebys Concert Hall last night. Tuesday's concert featured the West Coast premiere of 2x5 by Bang on a Can; a video-enhanced arrangement of his Piano Phase, renamed Video Phase, performed by David Cossin; Reich's seminal Music for 18 Musicians, performed by the All-Stars along with UC San Diego percussion ensemble red fish blue fish; and Clapping Music, performed by Cossin and the composer himself.
"A retrospective of Reich, performed by musicians who live and breathe his music, made attendance at this kind of event one of music's memorable experiences," explains Los Angeles Times music critic Mark Swed, who reports that the "enthusiastic, engrossed audience" included among its numbers Los Angeles Philharmonic music director Gustavo Dudamel. (The concert was part of the Philharmonic's popular Green Umbrella new-music series, which also includes a program of works by Louis Andriessen and a concert conducted by John Adams.)
Swed goes on to say that Reich "is admired by classical musicians for the near Bachian structural integrity and singularity of his work. He is also as close to a rock star as a composer can get these days." Of 2x5, which Bang on a Can also performs on the 2010 Nonesuch debut recording of the piece, Swed writes: "The three-movement piece contains typically Reichian pulsing and phasing and snappy short melodies, but the sound is new and exhilarating. The thick squeal of electric guitars, the raucousness of funky piano, the earthiness of electric bass, the drive of a drum kit all bespoke a rebellious freedom."
Read the complete concert review at latimes.com.
Swed’s colleague at the Times, pop/rock critic Randall Roberts found himself “floored” by 2x5. “Vital stuff from a 75-year-old. Hell, vital stuff from a 25-year-old.”
"There is perhaps no living composer more significant than Steve Reich," exclaims Variety reviewer Matt Kivel, who describes Clapping Music as a "conceptual marvel." Of Music for 18 Musicians, Kivel writes: "The performance was nothing short of transcendent, with each ensemble member taking on a unique and integral set of musical responsibilities ... Each component of the music was rendered with such remarkable endurance and detail that both the compositional brilliance and musical execution seemed to be as one." Read that review at variety.com.
Reich will reunites with Bang on a Can All-Stars at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Kresge Auditorium on March 10 for the Boston premiere of 2x5 plus performances of Video Phase, New York Counterpoint (which Bang on a Can recorded for a 2000 Nonesuch release), and Clapping Music.
To peruse the complete Steve Reich Nonesuch catalog, head to the Nonesuch Store now.