• Fantastic

    1 Nov 2009, 16:15

    Sat 31 Oct – Steve Reich/London Sinfonietta

    I am 45 this week and felt a bit old last night sitting amongst the audience. Steve Reich appears to be a very popular guy with the younger generation of music listeners, which is great. Also clearly from listening and speaking to other people in the audience it appears I am not alone in viewing 18 Musicians as a pivotal piece of music.

    Following the opening “Clapping Music” we had Mark Stewart on Guitar to play Electronic Counterpoint. Mark looked like a brightly coloured Jerry Garcia and he played a blinder. I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy this piece live. I remembered seeing Vermount Counterpoint (for Flute) which works in a similar way where someone plays live to backing tracks of themselves, and I didn’t think it worked very well. However this performance was the highlight of the concert for me, the sound quality was absolutely spot on and Mark Stewart played with much gusto and accuracy.

    Next up was Bang on a Can All Stars with Sextet. I’ve seen this live before and it’s a great piece that has a few very wonderful musical moments in it. For me the sound wasn’t fantastic for this piece and I thought we nearly had feedback on a few occasions. Not sure why this happened but there weren’t any similar issues for 18 Musicians.

    The 2nd half was taken up completely by Music for 18 Musicians played by the London Sinfonietta augmented by Steve Reich himself taking one of the piano parts. As I’ve said before this is simply my favourite piece of music. I liked Tom Service’s program notes which said “you are the listener; navigate your own path through its labyrinth of rhythmic and harmonic connections”. From the opening “chomp” of the marimba to the final “screech” of the violin it is a mesmerising experience to watch live. It looked to me as if nearly all the same performers that played at the FRH in 2008 were doing it again here.

    I don’t think it was a perfect performance. There were two specific errors I could notice. The main one was during Section 6 (the one which introduces the maracas) where it seemed to me that one of the piano players had got ahead of themselves a tad, there was something wrong, it certainly didn’t sound right. Reich himself appeared to be trying to give direction to get things back on track and at the end of the section let out a huge audible sigh. Other than that I’m sure the metallophone conductor chappie got one of his last queues out of time – but I could be wrong. Anyway it didn’t matter they all kept going!

    And…. after a very long standing ovation a lady behind me said “well I’ve not seen a standing ovation like that for around 15 years”. Neither have I for a classic concert but then as Steve said afterwards he is one composer who appears to bridge the gap between classical and “popular” music.
  • smashing

    11 Jul 2009, 9:47

    Fri 10 Jul – Crosby, Stills & Nash
    loved it - can't really go wrong with these guys - I've upoaded a couple of pics as well.
  • nice one

    14 Oct 2008, 19:39

    Mon 13 Oct – Stephen Stills
    I've not seen him on his own before and I preferred the first half with just Stephen and his guitar playing tracks like Johnny's Garden and TreeTopFlyer. The 2nd half had some tracks off his latest album such as Wounded World. I missed Old Man Trouble which I'd hope he'd play, but it was great to see him look so happy and relaxed playing some of his own stuff amongst the old CSN tracks. Why was the audience only 2/3rd full for such a great artist? I guess the answer was at work the following day when I said I'd seen Stephen stills "who?" y'know the guy from Crosby Stills Nash. "Who?". Ahem.....
  • Review of Steve Reich - Music for 18 musicians

    29 Abr 2008, 18:04

    Mon 28 Apr – Steve Reich: Music for 18 Musicians
    18 Musicians is my favourite piece of music, my number 1 desert island disk. I’ve never seen it performed live before so I was fascinated by the process and captivated as always by the music. I imagine the piece is a bit like a martial art to play, you have to be very disciplined and not take your eye off the ball or else it will all fall apart. I was close to the stage and watched all the players in The London Sinfonietta some of which seemed to be enjoying themselves most of the time when they weren’t counting or concentrating hard. It’s such good music, really simple yet complex also in a way. The only bit that didn’t quite seem right was the piano section (start of side 2 from the original vinyl edition), maybe I’m too used to the balance from the original recording which picks out the differences a bit more.

    The first half was taken up with Thomas Adès 'In Seven Days'. I loved the music but wasn’t a great fan of the massive visual projections, impressive though they were. But then I don’t like Reich’s video/music collaborations much either. I guess I’m just a traditional conservative old fart!
  • Van the Man

    29 Sep 2007, 20:54

    Has .Van Morrison released anything worth listening to in the last 10 years? Please tell
  • 11th!!

    29 Sep 2007, 20:52

    How on earth can old Mozart appear as 11th on my overall artist playlist when i don't hardly have anything by him? Suspicious I think.
  • Klaus Schulze

    29 Sep 2007, 4:52

    My attention span must be less than it used to be as I struggle to listen to some of Klaus Schulze longest pieces all the way through these days. Nuff said is 80 minutes long for heavens sake. Sometimes some of his shorter stuff is actually better. Let's face it with something like George Trakl from X (the original short version) he probably says everything he needs to in 5 minutes and it's wonderful. I like the shorter tracks from Contemporary works1 as well, say "eleven to eleven". I can't cope with the longer CD length tracks from his modern era anyway. I must admit I've edited down some of his stuff in order to cope with it. Terrible isn't it, but it was either that or bin it. I had to trash most of Silver Edition as it drove me up the wall. Life is far too short and there is too much other great music out there.
  • Harvest Moon

    29 Sep 2007, 4:44

    I got everthing by Neil Young up to Landing on Water and then promptly gave up (you'd understand if you followed him around that time). Coming back now all these years later can anyone suggest how I can catch up on his best work since those days?
  • Steve Reich

    29 Sep 2007, 4:41

    I notice that "Pulses" is the top track for Steve Reich which most likely comes from 18 Musicians. Glad to see that is his most heard tune. I recently read a comment about this piece being a "life changer" and I would agree. Although I enjoy his recent work very much I tend to come back to this piece again and again as it is simply so wonderful. The structure is so simple to understand and enjoy and yet some of the interlocking rhythms are jolly complex if you try to stay with them long after they have faded out.

    I have no idea how people can listen to stuff like Pendulum Music and the tape loops. Surely they were just intresting experiments, but to listen to at home? Blimey, I just couldn't. Anyway the wife wouldn't put up with it!
  • names

    29 Sep 2007, 4:30

    If you added my Crosby Stills Nash Crosby Stills Nash & Youngand Crosby Nashand figures up they would appear as one of the highest artists in my list, in fact including some of the solo stuff they would be top. The naming thing is messy for this band isn't it.