Audio Mixer: Michael Riesman.
Liner Note Author: David Lang.
Recording information: Concert Hall of The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media (01/24/2016); The Concert Hall of EMPAC, Rensselaer Polytechnic Insti (01/24/2016); Concert Hall of The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media (03/11/2011-03/12/2011); The Concert Hall of EMPAC, Rensselaer Polytechnic Insti (03/11/2011-03/12/2011).
Photographers: Stephanie Berger; Ryan Jenkins.
The 80th anniversary of minimalist pioneer Steve Reich's birth in 2016 has resulted in strong recordings of his music. This one by New York-based Ensemble Signal, which already had a successful recording of the classic Music for 18 Musicians under its belt, is especially nice. Here the group takes up little-known and more recent Reich works and makes a very strong case for them. The Double Sextet of 2007 was composed for a single sextet of strings, winds, and vibraphone performing with a tape of itself (as in Violin Phase), but here it is convincingly realized by 12 live musicians. The work is not more colored by jazz than other music by Reich, but from the sheer rhythmic energy with which the Ensemble Signal carries this off, it almost seems like a jazz work. Radio Rewrite (2013), one of the composer's newest pieces as of its recording here, is a bit off the beaten Reich track. The work is for 11 instruments, close to the ensemble heard in the Double Sextet. It resulted from the composer's friendship with the members of the alternative rock band Radiohead, and despite the minimal Fast-Slow-Fast-Slow-Fast titles of its five movements, each one is suggested by a Radiohead song. The actual level of Radiohead content, however, is very low; in most of the movements it will take an obsessive Radiohead fan indeed to spot the original. Nevertheless, the overlap of that group with Reich lovers may be fairly large; Reich's interest in the band began when he heard one of its members performing his own Electric Counterpoint. Recommended for both Reich and Radiohead fans. ~ James Manheim