Louis Andriessen / Reinbert de Leeuw / Schoenberg Ensemble

De Staat

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Dutch composer Louis Andriessen is often spoken of as one of the great neglected minimalists. But his work tends to be far less strictly minimalist than that of early Steve Reich or Philip Glass and much more akin to the grab bag ethos of John Adams. In fact, much of "De Staat," a single movement composition with text drawn from Plato's The Republic written from 1973-1976, echoes Adams both in the favored tonalities and in the mix of minimalist styles. The work, as performed by the Schoenberg Ensemble, made up of strings (including electric guitars), winds, and a quartet of female vocalists, consists of numerous rhythmic patterns interwoven with fanfare-like effects. The rhythms, though intricately interlocked, sound relatively stiff, as if drawn from European classical sources rather than, say, the West African roots of Reich's early work. There's a recurring melodic motif that is virtually lifted from Terry Riley's "A Rainbow in Curved Air" (which, in fairness, itself sounds as though derived from a piece of Gamelan music) and several brass arrangements straight out of Penderecki.

Despite several attractive moments, including a striking contrapuntal passage about ten minutes into the work, the overall effect is one of lack of focus and an unwillingness to develop what rhythmic and melodic ideas are found. Instead, Andriessen skips from one kernel to another, substituting borrowed ideas and a strident tone for development.

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