Monday, October 22, 2012
Steve Reich - The Desert Music (Nonesuch - 9 79101-1 F)
This is a record which took me some time to find a clean one to listen to. Interestingly it's not the rarest of his records, but it became one of the last 3 records of his that I didn't own. Therefore it is special in that way also.
Steve Reich is one of my favorite composers of the 20th century. The only reason is not his Minimalist background also. He has pioneered this genre, had a hard life in the beginning and opened various ways for future composers and artists to follow. He did not compose as much as Philip Glass and was not in the spotlight like him, but all the works he has written are known to be crucial.
Desert Music is structurally Steve Reich, but the vocals and the melodies are reminiscent of Terry Riley. The first thing you can hear in the desert is the wind and your pulse (Or so they sayy). Reich started from the point of pulse and developed from it. Repetition of 8 notes created this effect also pointing out his repetitive style. The use of mallet instruments is also very significant and this style has been a signature of his since he composed "Drumming".
The composition is based on William Carlos Williams's poems which you can also hear in the vocals. The poems themselves have absolutely no relation to desert, but they were also a starting point like the pulse effect. He was also ideally effected by Sinai and the religious importance of it. Moreover, he himself had experiences in Mojave desert. However, the musical feeling in the 5 movement piece has no relation to desert or the feeling of deserts apart from the name. Yet all movements which some are divided in slow and moderate are stylishly developing into one general piece which enables you to savour the moment while listening a true talent. It is also key to notify that Michael Tilson Thomas conducted the members of the Brooklyn Philharmonic orchestra along with the Steve Reich's musicians and chorus. It is a staggeirng record which was obviously worth the wait.
To buy this record: