WORKS: Proverb; Nagoya Marimbas; City Life
PERFORMER: Bob Becker, James Preiss (marimba); Theatre of Voices, Steve Reich Ensemble/Paul Hillier, Bradley Lubman
CATALOGUE NO: 7559-79430-2
Proverb (1995) is a setting for five voices and four instruments of Wittgenstein’s proverbial sentence ‘How small a thought it takes to fill a whole life’, reflecting an early influence on Reich: the 12th-century composer Pérotin. Like the more typically exuberant Nagoya Marimbas (1994) – which would have been more marvellous if twice the length – it’s good to have it on disc.
The main fare is, however, City Life (1994-5). This extends the ‘documentary’ techniques used in The Cave by integrating sampled New York street sounds into a 23-minute, five-movement work for 18 musicians. Among the best things Reich has done in the last decade, it is flawlessly played, with an astonishing grasp of the emotional charge it contains, by an expanded version of the composer’s ensemble. Keith Potter