Reich: Different Trains; Triple Quartet; The Four Sections

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WORKS: Different Trains; Triple Quartet; The Four Sections
PERFORMER: Lyon National Orchestra/David Robertson
Different Trains began life as a composition for string quartet and tape, with much of the latter comprising additional string parts which are here ‘unzipped’ and arranged for string orchestra. The original recording benefits from the contained intensity of the pre-recorded sections, but as this version progresses, the realisation hits that the work is in fact highly effective in its reworked form, its new-found multidimensionality giving a sense of liberation with no hint of the over-egging that can so easily detract from such experiments. The other major tweak is the increased foregrounding of the spoken element, elevating the fascinating narrative vignettes to a new prominence. The Triple Quartet already exists in several forms, one of which is the version for 36 string players presented here. It successfully transforms the work into an elegant, expositional, suite-like creation, which would make a superb introduction to the composer for any new listener with a grounding in the more mainstream repertoire for string orchestra. To my ear at least The Four Sections, based as the name implies on the four sections of the orchestra, has never been a total success, its construction perhaps constituting one process too many; nevertheless, this interpretation is attractive enough.While Different Trains suffers a little from sonic overcrowding, overall the sound is good. The previous recorded versions of the first two works are of the alternative executions (Kronos Quartet on Nonesuch), so for collectors I’m afraid it has to be both/and rather than either/or. Roger Thomas