Steve Reich

Steve Reich: Variations, Six Pianos Etc.

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AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson

This is a mid-priced reissue of several recordings of Steve Reich compositions originally released in the 1970s and 1980s. Its centerpiece is a 1984 recording of "Variations for Winds, Strings and Keyboards," performed by the San Francisco Symphony under the direction of Edo de Waart; the other two compositions, "Music for Mallet Instruments, Voices and Organ" and "Six Pianos," are presented here in 1974 recordings made by Reich himself with his own ensemble. This reissue is welcome for a number of reasons, not least among them the fact that it brings together three of Reich's most winning and accessible compositions at mid-range price. It also fills a gap left by Works: 1965-1995's fine ten-disc retrospective, which included a different arrangement of "Six Pianos" and did not include the "Variations" at all. The digital remastering for this reissue was very nicely done, and the warmth of the original analog recordings remains; the performances, too, are impeccable, and those by Reich and his own group are especially impressive. Newcomers to Reich's particular brand of process-generated music (he has always eschewed the term "minimalism") will probably find the "Variations" to be the most easily accessible and "Six Pianos" to be the most challenging, but everything on this program is exceptionally lovely. Highly recommended.

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