WORKS: Triple Quartet; Electric Guitar Phase; Music for Large Ensemble; Tokyo/Vermont Counterpoint
PERFORMER: Kronos Quartet; Alarm Will Sound, Ossia/Alan Pierson; Dominic Frasca (guitar), Mika Yoshida (MIDI marimba)
CATALOGUE NO: 7559-79546-2
From an innocent ear sharing the reviewing of this disc came the comment ‘it sounds like the needle’s stuck in a groove’; to which came the reply, ‘that’s not the point’. Or is it? With new versions of minimalist classics rubbing shoulders with recent pieces, this collection was always going to be a repetitive affair, where starvation of the musical body-parts of harmony, rhythm and polyphony, so essential to the vitality of the idiom, would be hard to distinguish from the breakdown of its essential functions.
That given, it was refreshing to discover new perspectives brought to old pieces by Electric Guitar Phase, an arrangement, via overdubbing, of Violin Phase, adding fresh bite to the tight canons of the earlier piece. More radical still are the transformations wrought in Tokyo/Vermont Counterpoint, the flutes of the original Vermont Counterpoint changed by MIDI magic into marimbas shorn of their long-decaying tone, with light and humorous results.
A revised edition of Music for Large Ensemble, ‘resourced’ to the original score, bears the composer’s imprimatur. In Triple Quartet, the Kronos accompanies pre-recorded versions of itself in music inspired by Bartók and Schnittke, yet bearing all the hallmarks of the old Reich. Nicholas Williams