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Thread: Prom 36: Wednesday, 10th August at 10.15 p.m. (Steve Reich and Ensemble Modern)

  1. #11
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    The Reich pieces performed were from the '70s, or in the case of Electric Counterpoint about a quarter of a century ago. What does this say about the choice to leave out his more recent music, of which there is no shortage?

    More challenging to the listener, and therefore more empty seats in the RAH?

    Did SR have carte blanche, or was there some consultation from the BBC?

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by cavatina View Post
    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:
    http://www.boosey.com/pages/cr/catal...sp?musicid=548

    A visual animation of Clapping Music that helps you understand the structure at a glance:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eu-tRXgOrdg
    Thanks for reproducing the composer's notes from B&H, cav. Very instructive From what Reich says this appears to be the start of his departure from the static overlayering of his late 60s approach, and a new emphasis on harmony - which for me rather destroys the point of the early polyrhythmic phasing innovations, making nearly all his later music sound the same. But this work looks transitional and could have suggested other possible directions, so, not having heard this last night or at any time I look forward to the repeat.

    S-A

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boilk View Post
    The Reich pieces performed were from the '70s, or in the case of Electric Counterpoint about a quarter of a century ago. What does this say about the choice to leave out his more recent music, of which there is no shortage?

    More challenging to the listener, and therefore more empty seats in the RAH?

    Did SR have carte blanche, or was there some consultation from the BBC?
    Definitely not more challenging, imo, Boilk...

  4. #14
    PatrickOD Guest

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    I wish I had been there. I had thought that I would have been in London this week, and had vaguely planned to go. But no.
    I enjoyed listening on radio. I once heard Clapping Music live and was mightily impressed. On radio I got the impression that one pair of hands was weaker than the other in places, but maybe that was intended. In any case I thought it was a remarkable performance. I liked the sound of the guitar in Electric Counterpoint, and I got so absorbed in Music for 18 Musicians that it took the stench of burning toast to bring me back to my sole self.

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    WTC 9/11 recording soon to be released but already causing controversy....

    http://tinyurl.com/3vl2ocg

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    Clapping Music is perhaps best appreciated in score form, because the performers are rarely sufficiently spaced out to hear the shifting parts distinctly enough (nor is there sufficient timbral or even pitch differentiation between the performers' claps) - and the phasing is the whole point of the piece!

    What most people really hear is the basic rhythmic pattern at the beginning and again at the end when clappers are back in rhythmic unison, and between them a long series of clapped out quavers of slightly varying dynamic intensities. The piece's appeal is surely its novelty, and little else.
    Last edited by Boilk; 12-08-11 at 10:31.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by PatrickOD View Post
    I wish I had been there. I had thought that I would have been in London this week, and had vaguely planned to go. But no.
    I enjoyed listening on radio.
    Me, too, Patrick. Fortunately, it sounded magnificent on FM. Music for 18 Musicians was a revelation to me - sublime, as cavatina said. I didn't want it to end.

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bryn View Post
    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.
    I have since had the opportunity to listen to the HD Sound transmission (through the good offices of another contributor here - many thanks). Clapping Music and Electric Counterpoint both came across much better than they did from my position in the Arena. Even the vibe's transitional signals in Music for 18 Musicians sounded less clunky. Worth checking out the somewhat lower, but still decent, definition 192kbps aac version on the iPlayer while it's still there (around 25 hours left).

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boilk View Post
    The Reich pieces performed were from the '70s, or in the case of Electric Counterpoint about a quarter of a century ago. What does this say about the choice to leave out his more recent music, of which there is no shortage?
    Um, nothing? A look at the Ensemble Modern's website indicates that the EM has a number of SR's works programmed for some upcoming concerts, as follows:

    9/11/11 (Krakow, Poland):
    Pawel Mykietyn: Two Milosz Poems – für Kammerensemble (2010-2011)
    Steve Reich: (a) Daniel Variations – for large ensemble (2006), (b) Music for 18 Musicians (1974-76)
    Steve Reich: Electric Counterpoint – for electric guitar and tape (1987)

    9/12/11 (Krakow): Three Tales

    9/14/11 (Krakow): (a) Eight Lines (1983), (b) Triple Quartet, (c) City Life (1995)

    More challenging to the listener, and therefore more empty seats in the RAH?
    Doubt it. Steve Reich's name is big enough that no matter what was programmed, I'm pretty sure that the size of the crowd would have been essentially the same. I think that practicality and getting people over from Germany for a one-off concert played its part, to be sure. I don't doubt that the BBC asked SR "what would you like to bring?" for essentially his own musical birthday party at the RAH, but keeping practical realities in mind of programming, transport of people, and what can fit into a late night Prom slot without too much dead time for re-setting the stage, and microphone and other electronic set-up.

    I will admit that I'm not a particular fan of SR's music, although I readily acknowledge his tremendous importance in contemporary music as well as recent modern music. For one, his style of using speech patterns as inspiration wears thin for me pretty soon, since a lot of American speech that he uses doesn't lend itself well to musical variety, often with clipped short fragments. (The same phenomenon manifests itself with Janacek, albeit there with a very different language and, to me, more musical variety.) But having said that, I was very interested in hearing this concert on iPlayer, and this was an absolutely splendid Prom and a terrific birthday tribute to SR.

    Oddly, because Reich's music needs amplification here, radio works very well to convey the hypnotic effect of the music. I think that if I had been there, I would have liked to have been in the Arena some 15-20 feet from the stage.

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