Kronos Quartet / So Percussion

Steve Reich: WTC 9/11; Mallet Quartet; Dance Patterns

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This 2011 album features three attractive works by Steve Reich written between 2002 and 2010. These aren't pieces that break new ground for the composer, but they are bound to appeal to anyone who appreciates his earlier work. They are most reminiscent of his music from the late 1970s and 1980s, one of his most productive and musically distinguished periods. WTC 9/11 recalls the sound and procedures of his landmark composition Different Trains for string quartet and tape (1988), played by the Kronos Quartet, the group that premiered the earlier piece. The voices Reich sampled in this work include those of people either caught up in the experience of the 9/11 World Trade Center attack or reflecting later on its meaning, and he derives the melodies of the instrumental lines from the contours of their spoken words. The piece doesn't have the musical depth or layered emotional complexity of Different Trains, but its subject matter guarantees the power of its visceral impact. Mallet Quartet (2009) for two vibraphones and two marimbas, and Dance Patterns (2010) for two vibraphones, two xylophones, and two pianos revisit the bright, dancing sound world of pieces like Tehillim and Eight Lines. They employ similar harmonies and compositional devices and showcase Reich's characteristic infectious rhythmic momentum. They may not show the composer pushing at new boundaries the way the earlier works did, but even if they have a familiar sound, it's a terrific sound, one that's bound to engage anyone who has been beguiled by the energy and colors of Reich's music. The Kronos Quartet, So Percussion, and the six players in Dance Patterns deliver topnotch performances, and Nonesuch's sound is immaculate. The album also includes a bonus DVD of So Percussion performing Mallet Quartet.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
blue highlight denotes track pick