"A Daunting Composition, Approached With Daring"
The New York Times, October 18, 2007
A succinct, newsy article about the Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble's newly issued recording of Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians. Regular readers of Alex Ross's blog have heard about this rather amazing project a few times now, and those who saw my review of this year's Bang on a Can Marathon might remember my description of what it was like to hear this group play the piece as dawn broke over the great glass ceiling of the World Financial Center.
Bill Ryan, the ensemble's founder and director, is in town tonight to celebrate the new release with a listening party at the Monkey, Dominic Frasca's performance loft in Chelsea, which is equipped with the beefiest surround-sound system I've ever laid eyes or ears upon. I dropped by on Monday for a private preview, and was impressed by the remarkably realistic soundstage and depth achieved in the GVSU recording. But it's the playing that matters most, and this new disc has earned the approval of Reich himself. It won't (and shouldn't) replace your copy of one of Reich's own recordings, but it will stand proudly next to it on your shelf.
Bringing the whole group back to town for the celebration was unfeasible -- and squeezing four pianos into the Monkey would no doubt violate any number of codes and statutes, anyway. But two participants in the project, percussionists Greg Secor and Sam Gould, will be playing Reich's Nagoya Marimbas live, and David Cossin will be on hand to perform his uncanny "Dance of Shiva" arrangement of Piano Phase.