Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Making their harmonia mundi début, New York-based Ensemble Signal performs Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians (1974-76), a seminal work by a pioneering composer who changed the course of 20th Century music. Steve Reich says, "Signal has made an extraordinary recording of Music for 18 Musicians. Fast moving, spot on and emotionally charged. Take a listen."
The Guardian, 22nd May 2015
This performance with a group of young musicians...points out, would not have been born when the piece was first performed - has the perfect combination of tightly disciplined ensemble playing and creative fantasy. There's tremendous, unstoppable energy in this performance, an urgent edge to its textures and a surging power to its thrilling climaxes, that make the greatness of the music unmistakable.
Hi-Fi Plus, June 2015
It's hard to imagine a finer recording than this ... the performance is exemplary and the recording crystalline. The textures are all perfectly layered, the playing (and singing) are all gloriously precise yet never clinical. In spite of the strong sense of the intellectual, and indeed a seriousness, evident here, you can't miss the joy and excitement Ensemble Signal bring to this thrilling piece.
Gramophone Magazine, July 2015
Reich has described this recording as 'extraordinary' and he's usually right about performances of his music. Signal's technical control and precision, combined with Lubman's ability to project the broad sweep of the work's internal dimensions, is sustained throughout the recording.
The Independent, 30th May 2015
This new recording by Ensemble Signal has a dashing, raw energy that sets it apart from Reich's original, particularly in the forceful, percussive attack of the later piano lines.
MusicWeb International, 30th June 2015
This recording is precise and balanced, energetic, and is very well recorded ... It's clear that this group is excellent with fine musicians who understand this music ... If, like me, you're obsessed with this piece, and have found it to be one of the greatest works of 20th century music, then you will certainly want to hear how Ensemble Signal plays it. You won't be disappointed.
Classical Music, August 2015
A dazzling new recording of Reich's early masterpiece, one that consistently comes up trumps for vivacity, freshness and hypnotic beauty. Supplanting Reich's own recording, this makes a compelling case for a 40-year-old work that here sounds utterly modern. It has never sounded better.
BBC Music Magazine, September 2015
A fast, sharply focused achievement that flies past barely touching the ground. One cannot help but be staggered by the skill of musicians who wear its arduous repetitions so apparently effortlessly, and succeed in lending it a sense of free-wheeling fantasy too... it might be said, this is Reich for the 21st century.
American Record Guide, September/October 2015
American Record Guide, September/October 2015
Reich's Music for 18 now has several excellent recordings, and it is impossible to choose among them. That, in part, is what makes a masterpiece a masterpiece. Just as important is the ability of a performance to inspire others to play and record the music so as to reveal more and more of its depth. Ensemble Signal'sperformance is more than an inspiration; it is a miracle.
Audio Mixer: Michael Riesman.
Liner Note Authors: Ashley Capps; Steve Reich .
Recording information: Concert Hall of the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media (03/09/2011-03/12/2011).
Photographers: Betty Freeman; Victoria Kereszi; Kait Moreneo.
As more ensembles perform and record Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians, its status as a minimalist masterpiece is increasingly affirmed. Ensemble Signal's 2015 release on Harmonia Mundi is one of several amazing performances that have matched Reich's original ECM New Series recording in technical brilliance and expressivity, and it has even earned the composer's approval for being "...fast moving, spot on, and emotionally charged." Under the direction of Brad Lubman, Ensemble Signal maintains a relentlessly steady pulse and articulates the interlocking patterns with absolute precision, though the shifting tone colors are perhaps a little clearer in this performance than in other recordings. The microphone placement is not so close that individual instruments stand out, but there is enough separation of parts to allow some sense of direction and the orientation of the smaller sub-groups of pianos, xylophones, marimbas, strings, clarinets, and voices. This is a mesmerizing performance that will transfix listeners, and the music is so compelling that it will linger on well after the CD stops. Highly recommended. ~ Blair Sanderson
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