eMusic Review 0
Along with Terry Riley's In C and Philip Glass's Einstein On The Beach, Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians is usually considered to be one of the watershed moments in late 20th-century composition. A completely personal distillation of Reich's studies of Indonesian gamelan, Ghanaian drumming, the "phase" effects of his early tape pieces, and his own history with Terry Riley's groundbreaking minimalist music, this work is probably cited more than any other by younger composers as an influence and a musical touchstone.
Music for 18 Musicians contains, in its first four minutes, more harmonic movement than Reich had used in all of his earlier works put together. Propulsive and rhythmic, it lays out the harmonic sequence that the subsequent 11 sections will explore, until those harmonies come back together in the reprise that bookends the piece. Built on the sounds of multiple mallet percussion instruments, multiple pianos (used as tuned percussion instruments) and a handful of reeds, strings, and wordless voices, Music for 18 Musicians is the musical equivalent of a river — able to carry you along with its smooth flow, but constantly bubbling and changing under the surface. Never the same river twice, as the saying goes.
This performance is… read more »