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Steve Reich: Reich/Richter

Ensemble intercontemporain/George Jackson (Nonesuch)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Steve Reich
Reich/Richter
Ensemble intercontemporain/George Jackson
Nonesuch 7559791189   36:37 mins

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Steve Reich’s 2019 piece Reich/Richter takes the composer’s habitual kaleidoscopic style to its outer limits – with pleasing results. Originally written to be performed in tandem with Gerhard Richter and Corinna Belz’s film Moving Picture 946-3, Reich refracts Richter’s creative process: an image of a painting is cut in half, then halved again, with each quarter reversed into mirror images. That ‘divide, mirror, repeat’ principle is translated into musical cells that gradually become entities in their own right, forming clear linear shapes. (Reich’s music lends itself to optical depiction and similar projects have been attempted in the past, for example by Cori O’Lan, who created software that visualises Piano Phase in real time.) The undulating, typically Reichian opening is followed by a more expansive second phase. When the cellular division has reached its practical end, Reich adds longer notes to prolong the development.

After more than 100 New York performances, Reich/Richter was recently performed at the Barbican (Britten Sinfonia under Colin Currie) and then by Ensemble intercontemporain at the Paris Philharmonie, where this premiere recording was made. George Jackson expertly pushes Pierre Boulez’s former ensemble through the pixelating patterns. Some audience snuffling and shuffling is audible in this otherwise mesmeric performance.

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Claire Jackson