Prom 36: Wednesday, 10th August at 10.15 p.m. (Steve Reich and Ensemble Modern)
Steve Reich brings his distinctive and pioneering style to the Proms, in celebration of his 75th birthday this year. His hypnotic rhythms and elements taken from jazz and non-Western traditions produce some ravishing music.
Clapping Music shows off the percussive abilities of two people who make music with nothing but their own bodies. In Electric Counterpoint a single electric guitarist builds up alluring layers of sound with a multiple guitar soundtrack.
Music for 18 Musicians is a seminal piece from the 1970s and one of Reich's best-known works. The exotic colours and percussive textures are very striking, as is the unusual ensemble, featuring multiple pianos, marimbas and xylophones. It is a work Reich himself is still very satisfied with, and its enduring nature has led to many contemporary electronica artists sampling it today.
Music for 18 Musicians
Steve Reich (percussion, piano)
Mats Bergström (guitar)
Presented by Andrew McGregor
Last edited by Eine Alpensinfonie; 03-08-11 at 10:41.
Hopefully the over-enthusiastic clappers of the RAH will not impinge upon the performance of Clapping Music.
Having never attended a late night Prom, can anyone tell me how well attended they are, in general?
Enjoyed this concert enormously and the audience were enthusiastic but 'well-behaved', even leaving a nice long pause at the end of Music for 18 Musicians before applauding.
I'd be interested to know from anyone who attended how the sound system was arranged, particularly for Electric Counterpoint. On FM the sound was excellent but I wasn't sure if we were listening to the recorded parts direct or from the stage loudspeakers. The various parts seemed close with little hall ambience and the stereo imaging very pronounced so I'm guessing it was the recording we were hearing with the live performer quite closely miked.
I'm so glad I didn't miss this Prom...absolutely unforgettable. I never would have guessed how profoundly hearing Music for 18 Musicians from the front row was going to affect me. It reminded me of something Schopenhauer once said about music:
"The unutterable depth of all music by which it floats through our consciousness as the vision of a paradise firmly believed in yet ever distant from us, and by which also it is so fully understood and yet is so inexpressible, rests on the fact that it restores to us all the emotions of our inmost nature, but entirely without reality and far removed from their pain."
In a word, sublime.
Composer's notes on the piece from Boosey and Hawkes:
A visual animation of Clapping Music that helps you understand the structure at a glance:
I am sorry to say I thought the sound in the RAH for both Clapping Music and Electric Counterpoint was pretty dire, with that for Clapping Music music quite negating the claimed intention of the work (that it was a work that could be performed if the power failed). I found the miking and heavy amplification too distracting. Music for 18 Musicians was mostly a delight, though the transitional signals did sound somewhat ham-fisted in several instances. None of which prevented me from much enjoying the event.
As to the audience being "well behaved", the young man immediately to the front left of me in the Arena did not fit that bill. On several occasion he resorted to whispering intrusively to his companion during the performance, and then started rifling though a plastic carrier bag he had brought with him. One or two others in the vicinity took in upon themselves to emulate his anti-social lead.
Last edited by Bryn; 11-08-11 at 07:38.
From what I've seen, it totally depends on the programme. It was fairly full tonight; some nights, the gallery and circle are so empty it feels like a chamber concert.
Originally Posted by Eine Alpensinfonie
Late night Proms can vary tremendously, some can have very sparse audiences, but last night the Arena was very full and there were few empty seats in the stalls, although the seats flanking the orchestra had been kept empty.
According to the programme, Reich himself asks for amplification in Clapping Music if the space seats more than 200 people, so I think the RAH meets that criterion!
I have only heard the works on CD, and had not realised what theatre they are, it was great to be there, even after standing through the earlier concert. Music for 18 Musicians certainly produces a hypnotic effect. It seems to live entirely in the present. We experience each change of pattern and harmony from instant to instant, but it isn't easy to remember what went before, or predict what is to come. It obviously demands enormous discipline from the players, and must be exhausting to perform, but they worked as one last night.