Monday, 14 March 2016
Steve Reich - Drumming/Six Pianos/Music For... (rec. 1974)
As with most of Reich's music, from the 70s in particular, Drumming is just a simple joy to listen to and get lost in the gradually shifting patterns. Starting off with tuned bongo drums that continually hint at melody, the second section uses the same rhythms but scored for marimbas. This part of Drumming is my absolute favourite, especially the two major changes to the patterns at the 8 and a half minute mark and again at the 20 minute mark. The third section takes the music up a register with tinkling glockenspiels, followed by a finale with the whole ensemble.
These recordings were originally released in 1974 as a 3LP set on Deutsche Grammophon - one of the advantages of the CD era is that you can listen to Drumming Pts. 1-3 uninterrupted, rather than changing vinyl sides for each one. The supporting pieces are the self-descriptive Six Pianos - try it with some sort of reverb effect to approximate the intermingling sound that Reich was aiming for in a large concert hall - and then a final ensemble work that doesn't really go anywhere, but does it very nicely and soothingly. Music For Mallet Instruments, Voices and Organ is actually the most prescient pointer to where Reich was about to go in the years that followed, in much more accomplished forms.