Steve Reich Sydney Opera House Residency Concludes with Concert of "Brilliant Edginess" (Sydney Morning Herald, Four Stars)
Steve Reich made a rare visit to Australia for the launch of a new series at the Sydney Opera House with The Composers: Steve Reich in Residence, a program that celebrated Reich's work through a number of events, culminating in a performance this past Sunday featuring some of the highlights of his musical repertoire by Synergy Percussion, eighth blackbird, and others. On Monday, Reich made his way to Melbourne for a conversation and concert at the Melbourne Recital Centre with eighth blackbird and members of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
A highlight of Sunday night's culminating concert at the Sydney Opera House was the performance of Reich's seminal piece Music for 18 Musicians as well as the Australian premiere of Variations for Vibes, Strings, Pianos, which requires two pianos, three string quartets, and four vibraphones. Also on the program were a previously unannounced take on Clapping Music featuring the composer, Mallet Quartet, Drumming (Part One), Four Organs, Vermont Counterpoint, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Double Sextet, which eighth blackbird played "with brilliant edginess," says the Sydney Morning Herald's Peter McCallum in a four-star review of the concert.
"The term 'minimalism' in music is a useful one because it instantly identifies a style based on repetition, patterns moving in and out of phase, and harmonic stasis," McCallum writes. "Yet as shown by this well-conceived program, featuring some of Steve Reich's major works since minimalism first gained traction in the 1960s, it is also inadequate to describe the range of textures this style has grown to encompass."
Read the four-star concert review at smh.com.au.
The Australian's Murray Black cites the "tight-knit playing and incisive attack" with which eighth blackbird performed Double Sextet and says of Music for 18 Musicians: "Like Tehillim, there's a sense of uninhibited joy in the work's propulsive energy and gleaming sonorities. Performed by a collective of Australia's finest contemporary music performers, this compelling account captured its exuberance while simultaneously revealing its inventive instrumental colours." Read the complete concert review at theaustralian.com.au.
The following night, Reich was in Melbourne for a sold-out event at the Melbourne Recital Centre's Elisabeth Murdoch Hall that included a conversation with the composer and members of eighth blackbird and an all-Reich concert by eighth blackbird, members of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and Speak Percussion featuring Clapping Music (on which Reich joined percussionist Eugene Ughetti), Vermont Counterpoint, Drumming (Part One), Different Trains, and Double Sextet.
Steve Reich stopped by the studio of ABC Classic FM studios last week to talk with Midday presenter Margaret Throsby about his work and the Australian performances. You can listen again at abc.net.au.