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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

LABELS: Nonesuch
WORKS: Electric Counterpoint; Piano Counterpoint; Radio Rewrite
PERFORMER: Jonny Greenwood (guitar), Vicky Chow (piano), Alarm Will Sound/Alan Pierson
CATALOGUE NO: 7559-79547-0


Steve Reich first heard Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood perform Electric Counterpoint in Kraków at a 2010 festival of Reich’s music. That meeting inspired Radio rewrite, a five-part work that takes as its starting point two Radiohead songs, Jigsaw Falling into Place and Everything in its Right Place. Scored for chamber ensemble including pianos and vibraphones, and with contrasting fast-slow movements, his first foray into rock is instantly recognisable as Reich. Despite a committed performance from Alarm Will Sound, the material doesn’t quite achieve the satisfying spring and momentum of his vintage work.

Vicky Chow’s performance of Reich’s Piano Counterpoint – an arrangement of Six Pianos, in which four of the six piano parts are pre-recorded and the last two provide the virtuosic single part played live – is more convincing, with Chow alert to the music’s intricate rhythms. But the highlight is Electric Counterpoint. Originally written for jazz guitarist Pat Metheny and sampled by ambient electronic group, The Orb, the piece pulsates here with 11 electric guitars, 10 of which Greenwood has pre-recorded, and against which he plays the 11th part. Close miking gives the sound a raw energy.


Nick Shave