“Reich/Richter” by Steve Reich, recorded by the Ensemble Intercontemporain conducted by George Jackson, now available on Nonesuch Records; Vinyl expected on August 5
Nonesuch Records Releases Steve Reich’s First Recording Reich/Richterperformed by Ensemble Intercontemporain and conducted by George Jackson, on CD and digital today, with vinyl due August 5th. The composition was originally written to be performed with the film by German visual artist Gerhard Richter and Corinna Belz Animated picture (946-3). Album pre-orders are available here now. A video of the composer talking about Reich/Richter seen here:
Reich describes Richter’s book Grounds, which served as the raw material for the film: “It starts with one of his abstract paintings from the 90s. He scanned a photo of the painting into a computer, then cut the scan in half and took each half, cut that in two and two of the four quarters which he reversed into mirror images. He then repeated this process of “divide, mirror, repeat” from half to quarter, eighth, sixteenth, thirty-second, up to 4096th. The net effect is to go from an abstract painting to a series of progressively smaller anthropomorphic “creatures” (since the mirror produces bilateral symmetry) to even smaller “psychedelic” abstractions in very thin stripes.
“Belz described the film in terms of ‘pixels’. The film begins with the strips of two ‘pixels’ and the music begins with a swinging pattern of two sixteenth notes. As the film changes to four ‘pixels’, the music changes four sixteenth notes, then eight and sixteen,” the composer continues. “After that, I started thinking, ‘This is going to get ridiculous,’ so at that point I started introducing note values longer – first eighth notes, and later as the number of pixels increased in the film, to quarter notes. In the middle of the movie, when the frames go from 512 to 1064 pixels and the images get bigger and more like “creatures”, the music really slows down. Later, as the pixel count begins to decrease, the music returns to faster eighths and then sixteenths, ending with the most intense fast motion.
After more than a hundred performances of Reich/Richter at The Shed in New York in 2019, it was performed in London at the Barbican by the Britten Sinfonia conducted by Colin Currie and then in Paris at the Philharmonie, where this recording was made. Austrian ensemble Windkraft Tirol, conducted by Kasper de Roo, performs Reich/Richter on September 8, 2022, at SzentrumSilbersaal in Schwaz, and the LA Phil New Music Group, led by Brad Lubman, perform the piece, accompanied by the film by Richter and Belz, in Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles on April 1, 2023.
Nonesuch has recorded every new piece of Steve Reich music since 1985, starting with desert music and continues until 2018 Pulse/Quartet, resulting in twenty-two albums and the two box sets Steps in 2006 and Works: 1965-1995 in 1997. The label will release a collection of his complete works in 2023.
Reich published a book earlier this year, Chatswhich includes dialogues with former collaborators, other composers, musicians and visual artists who have been influenced by his work, including: David Lang, Brian Eno, Richard Serra, Michael Gordon, Michael Tilson Thomas, Russell Hartenberger, Robert Hurwitz , Stephen Sondheim, Jonny Greenwood, David Harrington, Elizabeth Lim-Dutton, David Robertson, Micaela Haslam, Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, Julia Wolfe, Nico Muhly, Beryl Korot, Colin Currie and Brad Lubman. List of books said in his review, “The iconoclastic American composer Steve Reich is singular in himself, and when he is in conversation with other equally iconoclastic composers, conductors, sculptors, musicians, percussionists and videographers, the sparks do not they don’t just fly, they sparkle. .. Reich and his colleagues organize beautiful exchanges during which they share stories, creative approaches and points of view … Reich’s Chats is the best type of listening.
Steve Reich has been called “America’s greatest living composer” (Voice of the village), “the most original musical thinker of our time” (New Yorker), and “among the great composers of the century” (New York Times). His music has influenced composers and traditional musicians around the world. Music for 18 musicians and Different trains won him two Grammy Awards, and in 2009, his Double sextet wins the Pulitzer Prize. Reich’s documentary video opera works—The cave and three tales, produced in collaboration with videographer Beryl Korot, have been performed on four continents. His recent work Quartetfor percussionist Colin Currie, sold out two consecutive concerts at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall shortly after tens of thousands at the Glastonbury Festival heard Jonny Greenwood (of Radiohead) play Electric counterpoint followed by the London Sinfonietta performing his Music for 18 musicians.
In 2012, Reich received the Gold Medal in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He also received the Praemium Imperiale in Tokyo, the Polar Music Prize in Stockholm, the BBVA Award in Madrid and recently the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale. He was appointed Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters and received honorary doctorates from the Royal College of Music in London, the Juilliard School, the Liszt Academy in Budapest and the New England Conservatory of Music, among others. “There are only a handful of living composers who can legitimately claim to have changed the direction of musical history and Steve Reich is one of them,” says the Guardian.
Pierre Boulez founded the Ensemble intercontemporain in 1976 with the support of Michel Guy (then Minister of Culture) and the collaboration of Nicholas Snowman. The thirty-one soloists of the Ensemble share a passion for the music of the 20th and 21st centuries. Under the artistic direction of Matthias Pintscher, the musicians work in close collaboration with composers, exploring instrumental techniques and developing projects combining music, dance, theatre, cinema, video and visual arts. In collaboration with IRCAM (Institute for Acoustic/Music Research and Coordination), the Ensemble intercontemporain is also active in the field of synthetic sound generation. New plays are commissioned and performed regularly. Resident of the Cité de la Musique—Philharmonie de Paris, the Ensemble performs and records in France and abroad, taking part in the biggest festivals in the world.
George Jackson, winner of the 2015 Aspen Conducting Prize, stood out after intervening at short notice with the Orchester de Paris, where he replaced Daniel Harding. He recently conducted the Ensemble intercontemporain at the Romaeuropa Festival, the Rainy Days Festival in Luxembourg and the Festival d’Automne in Paris, as well as conducted the Orchester symphonique national RTÉ, the orchestra of the Opéra de Rouen and the world premiere of Genia by Tscho Theissing with Theater an der Wien. His varied operatic experience includes performances at Opera North, Hamburg State Opera and Opera Holland Park, as well as conducting a new production of Hänsel und Gretel at Grange Park Opera.