The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center at Alice Tully Hall
The New York Times, October 23, 2006
Sunday night's concert at Zankel Hall by Steve Reich and Musicians proved revelatory in an unexpected way. Not for the video-aided performances of Cello Counterpoint by Maya Beiser and Piano/Video Phase by David Cossin: these were expected hits, although Cossin's thorough rethinking of the early Piano Phase remains technologically magical. Not even for the American premiere of Daniel Variations, a deeply humane and ultimately celebratory remembrance of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, murdered by religious zealots.
Instead, the most illuminating aspect of Sunday night's concert was Reich's description to interiewer Ara Guzelimian of the thought processes that shaped an early compositional summation, Drumming. Tuned bongos on stands were the result of Reich having heard a student performance by a percussionist at Juilliard. Those throbbing beats were reminiscent of marimbas, whose woody overtones conjured female voices. Removing the bass line led to glockenspiels, which in turn suggested whistling and a piccolo.
Reich mentioned all of this in the opening interview. Then, after intermission, he played Drumming with his ensemble. Suddenly, music that previously had seemed abstract took on a decidedly human dimension; every impulse Reich described in his pre-concert interview was made manifest. The last section, in which all of the preceding timbres are combined, was, in Reich's own words, a concession to the classical-music expectation that everybody gets a word in at the end.
My neck is now a bit sore from having bobbed to to the beat all night long. Happy birthday, Mr. Reich.
Poul Ruders - The Handmaid's Tale - Marianne Rørholm, Hanne Fischer, Anne Margrethe Dahl, Susanne Resmark, Poul Elming, Aage Haugland; Royal Danish Opera Chorus, Royal Danish Orchestra/Michael Schønwandt (Da Capo)