[ LSO Live / LP ]
Release Date: Friday 18 August 2017
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The percussionists of the London Symphony Orchestra explore the music of America's most influential living composer. A giant of modern music, Reich's pioneering work has influenced countless performers, breaking boundaries across genres. Previously released digitally and on SACD, this acclaimed album is available on vinyl for the first time.
A seminal piece in Reich's output, Sextet employs his universally recognisable soundworld and its sequence of harmonies gradually overlap and interweave. Introducing more aggressive rhythms and dissonance and than previous compositions, the relationship of the five movements is that of an arch form, A-B-C-B-A. Reich says of the piece: 'The ambiguity here is between which is melody and which is accompaniment. In music that uses a great deal of repetition, I believe it is precisely these kinds of ambiguity that give vitality and life'.
Perhaps Reich's most famous piece, Clapping Music strips things back to the bare essentials and takes traditional African rhythms as its starting point. Conceived from a desire to compose music that would need no instrument beyond the human body, it's a key example of the composer's technique of phasing. The whole work consists of a single rhythmic cell which becomes staggered as the work progresses, creating an entrancing and hypnotic effect.
Music for Pieces of Wood takes this concept a step further by adding pitches in the form of claves tuned to A, B, C#, D#. The claves are chosen for their resonant timbre and the piece is one of the loudest the composer has written, despite using no amplification whatsoever.
LSO Principal Percussionist Neil Percy, who has performed with Reich, says of his relationship with these pieces and their composer: 'The thing I enjoy most about playing the music of Steve Reich is its diversity, its complexity, its challenging nature… We've played so many pieces of Steve's over the years with him, so it's got a very personal set of challenges that I find completely irresistible. That's why, on this particular project for LSO Live, we tried to put together a programme that reflected all of the pieces that the group themselves really like to play.'
"The beauty of the LSO Percussion Ensemble's performance is in its delicate, almost tactile sound, the various textures - some sensual, others more metallic - kept crystal clear, the music's constant rhythmic course occasionally shifting, crab-like, off centre." (Classical Ear)
1. Clapping Music
2. Music for Pieces of Wood
3. Sextet: I. Crotchet = 192
4. Sextet: II. Crotchet = 96
5. Sextet: III. Crotchet = 64
6. Sextet: IV. Crotchet = 96
7. Sextet: V. Crotchet = 192