Reich: Sextet, Clapping Music, Music for Pieces of Wood [digital download]
Catalogue Number LSO5073
James Mallinson producer
Neil Percy & Sam Walton executive producers
Classic Sound Ltd engineering, editing, mixing & mastering
Recorded live in DSD, at the Barbican on the 30th October 2015
FLAC stereo 24 bit 96 kHzTotal playing time 43m 03s
MP3 stereo 320 kbps
Booklet notes in English, French and German
***** Performance ****½ Sonics (Stereo) ***** Sonics (Multichannel) ‘(Clapping Music) Neil Percy delivers an inspired performance alongside his LSO Co-Principal, Sam Walton… (they) deliver a faultless account of what must surely be a most challenging piece for performers…The immediate accessibility of the 'Sextet' aided by the brilliance of the LSO Percussion Ensemble's stunning playing will surely bring new converts to Reich's archetypal and iconic oeuvre…The recording vividly captures the clean acoustic of this venue with the 5.1 multi-channel mix adding just an extra degree of ambience to the sound…The performances and the recorded sound are so outstanding…Unreservedly recommended’ HR Audio
***** Performance **** Recording ‘The LSO Percussion Ensemble’s riveting recording [of Music for Pieces of Wood] has the bonus of being live. Moreover, they take it very fast indeed…and accomplish it brilliantly. I’ve found Sextet heavy and congested in the past: not here. They achieve a wonderfully transparent weave through which the bowed marimba notes shine like rays of light through water..’ BBC Music Magazine
***** ‘Reich provided one pair of hands, the LSO’s percussionist Neil Percy the other. It was intriguing to see how something so mechanical could be so revealing of character, and how the patterns appeared to change before our very ears.’ The Telegraph
*** ‘Three varied works make up this LSO Live’s anniversary disc: the omnipresent Clapping Music; the Music for Pieces of Wood…and the aurally seductive Sextet… Recording and performances from the LSO Percussion Ensemble are good’ Financial Times
‘The LSO recording has a gauzy quality that makes the work’s keyboard and percussion timbres (sometimes bowed) sound seamlessly blended’Allan Kozinn, Wall Street Journal
LSO Percussion Ensemble
LSO Live explore the music of America’s most influential living composer with performances of three of his most iconic works: Sextet, Clapping Music and Music for Pieces of Wood.
Employing Reich’s universally recognisable soundworld, Sextet uses hypnotic repetitions of a sequence of harmonies, which gradually overlap and interweave, resulting in a complex yet utterly compelling musical landscape. Introducing more dissonance and aggressive rhythms than previous compositions, the relationship of the five movements is that of an arch form, A-B-C-B-A. Changes in tempo are made abruptly at the beginning of new movements by metric modulation and sections are also organised harmonically with a chord cycle for the first and fifth. Reich says of the work – ‘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’.
Composed in 1972, Clapping Music strips back to the bare essentials, taking traditional African rhythms as its starting point. Conceived from a desire to compose music ‘that would need no instrument beyond the human body’ it is perhaps the most elemental example of phasing in the composer’s catalogue. The whole work consists of a single rhythmic cell which becomes staggered as the work progresses, creating an entrancing and hypnotic effect. Having previously performed the work with the composer, Neil Percy, LSO Principal Percussionist, delivers an inspired performance alongside his LSO Co-Principal, Sam Walton.
Music for Pieces of Wood takes this concept a step further, adding pitches, in the form of claves tuned A, B, C#, D# and D# an octave above. 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.
Neil Percy, says of his relationship with these pieces and the 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 being present, 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.’
|Performers||LSO Percussion Ensemble|
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