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Reich: Music For 18 Musicians

Release Date: 04/18/2000 
Label:  Ecm   Catalog #: 821417   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Steve Reich
Performer:  Richard CohenNurit TillesLarry KarushBob Becker,   ... 
Conductor:  Steve Reich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Steve Reich and Musicians
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 57 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

REICH Music for 18 Musicians Steve Reich, cond; Steve Reich Ens ECM 1129 (56:31)

The term “minimalism” has been repudiated by just about all the composers with whom it has been associated, Reich not least among them. Notwithstanding these disavowals, it became a convenient catch phrase for a disparate collection of music. There is disagreement, too, concerning exactly when minimalism went maxi, but many listeners will point to the appearance, in 1978, of this recording. According to Reich, “There is more Read more harmonic movement in the first five minutes of Music for 18 Musicians than in any other complete work of mine to this date (1976).” It is this new element of harmonic progression, more than anything else, that rendered the minimalist appellation obsolete.

The release by DG in 1974 of a three-LP set containing Drumming, Music for Mallet Instruments, Voices, and Organ , and Six Pianos had marked a watershed of sorts: the prestige of the “yellow label” added credibility in the classical field to this often-disparaged new sound. This recording of Music for 18 Musicians was originally intended for release by DG, too, but (with ultimately regrettable shortsightedness) DG executives passed on the piece and instead dispatched it to Manfred Eicher, whose new label, ECM, had proven to be a conduit for music that was considered unsuitable for the parent label. The disc would eventually sell in excess of 100,000 copies—peanuts for pop music but a blockbuster by classical standards.

In its original release on LP, the side-change obviously necessitated a break in the work, accomplished by fading the music out and then fading in on side 2—the kind of accommodation with which listeners reared on LPs were all too familiar. The advent of CD made it possible to hear the work the way it was originally conceived, as a continuously evolving piece. For those of us already predisposed to acquire any new Reich record, 18 Musicians was a revelation. The shifting focus of the sections allowed the listener to hear combinations of color and rhythm that were richer and more complex than in Reich’s earlier pieces, while the underlying pulsing provided a familiar sensation of organic momentum. Reich would go on to compose music for larger and larger forces, culminating in pieces for the symphony orchestra. This was made possible in part by the kinds of techniques first attempted in 18 Musicians , which remains one of its composer’s most successful and important works.

This piece has gained wide circulation: more recent recordings by Amadinda on Hungaroton, the Ensemble Modern on RCA, and Reich’s own remake with his ensemble on Nonesuch have proven that it is a work responsive to musicians of diverse backgrounds and ages. It seems appropriate, in recognition of the more than 30 years since its first appearance, that Music for 18 Musicians takes its place in the Classical Hall of Fame.

FANFARE: Christopher Abbot
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Works on This Recording

Music for 18 Musicians by Steve Reich
Performer:  Richard Cohen (Clarinet), Nurit Tilles (Piano), Larry Karush (Maracas),
Bob Becker (Xylophone), Shem Guibbory (Violin), Gary Schall (Maracas),
Gary Schall (Marimba), Jay Clayton (Alto), Bob Becker (Marimba),
Russ Hartenberger (Marimba), Russ Hartenberger (Xylophone), James Preiss (Percussion),
Steve Chambers (Piano), Ken Ishii (Cello), Steve Reich (Marimba),
Steve Reich (Piano), David Van Tieghem (Marimba), David Van Tieghem (Piano),
Glen Velez (Xylophone), Glen Velez (Marimba), Virgil Blackwell (Bass Clarinet),
Virgil Blackwell (Clarinet), Rebecca Armstrong (Soprano), Larry Karush (Piano),
Richard Cohen (Bass Clarinet), Jay Clayton (Piano), Elizabeth Arnold (Voice),
David Van Tieghem (Xylophone), Pamela Fraley (Voice)
Conductor:  Steve Reich
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Steve Reich and Musicians
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1976; USA 
Length: 56 Minutes 31 Secs. 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 fun! beautiful July 5, 2015 By Lyman M. (Houston, TX) See All My Reviews "I think the quality of this recording (from 1978?) is very good. Steve Reich wrote notes in the CD booklet. Love the composition and the performance." Report Abuse
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