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Steve Reich: Phase to Face / A Film by Eric Darmon & Franck Mallet [DVD]

Album Summary

>Reich, Steve : Work(s)

Notes & Reviews:

A student of Darius Milhaud and Luciano Berio, composer Steve Reich (b. 1936) quickly developed a style all his own inspired by Baroque music, Bartók, Webern and Stravinsky, as well as jazz, traditional music (especially African), and Hebrew cantillation. As a trailblazing exponent of minimalist music, Reich rejected the characteristic complexity of mid-20th-century classical harmony and tonality in order to make large-scale works from minimal materials - a single chord, a brief musical motif, a spoken exclamation. In this profile he looks back on the key stages of his 40-year career, from the formation of his own group to the American avant-garde he helped to create, from new video performances to his quasi-religious music. Despite his success and wide recognition, Steve Reich has never renounced his independent spirit. Features clips from performances and concerts in Le Havre, Tokyo, Rome, New York and Manchester. Bonus: "Talks in Tokyo with Steve Reich" (18 min.) & "A brief History of Music by Steve Reich" (9 min.)

I strongly recommend this film as both a comprehensive introduction to the full range of the music of Steve Reich and as a fascinating portrait of one of the most interesting composers - or indeed, artists in any medium - of our time.

This video should appeal to anyone curious about recent American art music; for those interested in the music of Steve Reich, this is the primer.

American Record Guide
As we know, he was very wrong. Now Steve Reich is in his 70s and recently won the Pulitzer Prize. This documentary was made by Eric Darmon, who also made an entertaining documentary on Philip Glass called Looking Glass. The difference between the two documentaries offers an interesting gloss on the differences between the two composers. Glass, always on the move, interacts with the people who work for him, musicians who are preparing his work, interviewers who try to schedule some of his time, directors who need their soundtracks. Reich is a musician's musician; the bulk of the time is spent on his own chronological narration of his life and work and performances of various works including Clapping Music, Tehillim, and Different Trains. Occasionally the music accompanies dancers (for instance, a fabulous choreography by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker to Piano Phase). More often - unfortunately - the director furnishes dumb visual accompaniments to some of Reich's music: crowds crossing the street to Music for 18 Musicians, a strange montage with projected words (and also the musical letters) for the last movement of Trains.

Most exciting for me is the opportunity to see and hear an extract from The Cave - Reich's wife, Beryl Korot, creates a powerful visual counterpart to the compelling music, and it's quite difficult to get a sense of the piece without the visual element. Having followed Reich's career for a long time now, I wasn't surprised by anything I heard, but I imagine that many people will learn a great deal from the documentary;...

MusicWeb International
The Talks in Tokyo bonus is interesting. Reich doesn't involve himself in lectures. When he gives talks he plays a recording of a piece not performed in the concert that the audience has heard, and then answers questions. In this case, he played You Are (Variations), a 2004 work. The questions and answers are indeed interesting and worth listening to.

Notes & Reviews:

Run Time: 80 min.
Region: All
Picture Format: NTSC, 16:9, Color
Sound Format(s): LPCM Stereo,
Subtitles: English, German, French, Japanese


Excellent documentary of one of our greatest living composers
"Steve Reich - Phase to Face" begins with the composer receiving a phone call, with the news that he had won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in music for his piece 'Double Sextet'. This call comes shortly before the beginning of the interview that makes up most of the documentary. We see Reich, in his trademark ballcap, talk about his decision in college to switch his focus of studies from philosophy to composition, ultimately winding up at Juilliard (one of his classmates there is Philip Glass). Reich is a vibrant and eloquent speaker, and the images that accompany the bits of music are arresting to watch. The directors of this video provide interesting visuals to snippets of some of Reich's most popular works, moving chronologically from his first 'tape/phase' piece "It's Gonna Rain" (1965) through his latest chamber piece "2x5" (2009). At less than one hour, the documentary only scratches the surface of Reich's abilities as a great composer. Extras include a 'conversation' in Tokyo, where Reich asks the audience to hear some of his recordings, after which he provides insightful comments, and a 'brief history of music', in which Reich (during his interview) explains some of the changes that have taken place in music throughout the centuries. This DVD is a great way to begin to learn about Steve Reich, his influences, and the impact on society of his music.
Submitted on 02/26/11 by mwilcox15 
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Works Details

>Reich, Steve : Work(s)
  • Period Time: Contemporary