Steve Reich has a remarkable arrangement for a composer in that he is an exclusive artist for Nonesuch and has been so for more than two decades. Back in 1996, when Reich celebrated his 60th birthday, Nonesuch issued a 10-CD box set of "everything" – all of the works in the Warner Classics vaults that he had recorded, including some new at the time, such as Steve Reich: Works 1965-1995. With Reich's 70th birthday afoot, the earlier set still in print and Nonesuch belonging to a classical music division that is operating on one lung, it has decided on a more modest approach to the newer observance with Steve Reich: Phases – A Nonesuch Retrospective, a collection consisting of five discs.
EMI celebrates the 75th birthday of one of our most acclaimed and respected contemporary composers, Steve Reich. This album includes a world-premiere recording of a new scoring of Reich's "Six Pianos", entitled "Piano Counterpoint", arranged and performed by Vincent Corver, Pianist and Co-Founder of the Composer-Endorsed London Steve Reich Ensemble.
In the afterglow of his 60th birthday in 1997, Nonesuch Records delivered Steve Reich and his listeners an immense gift, this 10-CD retrospective of his work for the label, extending from his earliest tape-manipulation pieces to his most recent compositions utilizing samplers and the video artistry of Beryl Korot. Aside from the ear's liquid sense-making when it hears the dense and limber marimbas of Reich's Six Marimbas or his taut, dizzying Piano Phase, there is a physical response almost inevitable in Reich's music.
Alarm Will Sound's recording of Steve Reich's monumental orchestral/choral works The Desert Music and Tehillim, released on the Cantaloupe label in 2002, greatly benefits from the group's close connections with the composer: the ensemble's conductor, Alan Pierson, and several of the performers studied at the Eastman School with Brad Lubman, a conductor frequently enlisted by Reich. Also, Pierson's arrangements, which reconcile the chamber and orchestral versions that exist for both works, were prepared in close consultation with the composer; thus, this may well be the definitive recording of these pieces. Brilliantly sonorous in their climaxes – the burst of light near the end of Desert Music, the "Alleluias" that close Tehillim – the players also articulate Reich's intricate canonic textures with nimble precision. Voices and strings are always an Achilles heel within Reich's percussive textures (leading him to eliminate part doublings in favor of giving each line to a lone, amplified performer), but here the singers and strings maintain an impressive rhythmic vitality.