Reich: Daniel Variations; Variations for Vibes, Pianos and strings.

LABELS: Nonesuch
WORKS: Daniel Variations; Variations for Vibes, Pianos and strings.
PERFORMER: Los Angeles Master Chorale; London Sinfonietta/Alan Pierson
CATALOGUE NO: 7559 799 494
The Daniel Variations is a moving, unsettling tribute to Daniel Pearl, the Jewish-American journalist abducted and murdered by Islamicist extremists in 2002. Reich sets texts from the Book of Daniel and, in the second and fourth parts, Pearl’s own words. The second takes the statement ‘My Name is Daniel Pearl’ from the kidnappers’ video, an uneasy echo of Reich’s early tape work, My Name Is, with the phrase in an entirely different context. The fourth recalls Pearl saying, in a conversation about the afterlife, ‘I sure hope Gabriel likes my music’, an allusion to a Stuff Smith record he owned. Since Pearl also played violin, Reich gives the strings prominence when setting his words. From the opening chords there is untypical harshness in the piano parts, and a harmonic tension throughout: Reich uses minor harmonies in the first and third movements, major in the second and fourth, giving a sense of affirmation to Pearl’s words. Loping, leaping figures and exuberant rhythms pervade the Variations for Vibes, Pianos and Strings, originally a dance commission.