Steve Reich
Kronos Quartet, So Percussion, Dance Patterns
Kronos Quartet, So Percussion
Nonesuch 528236

Troublesome tribute: Steve Reich's 9/11 lament has its problems.

Steve Reich’s highly anticipated September 11 lament comes ten years after the terrorist attacks and the release itself was not without controversy (note the revised album artwork). His account is everything we have come to expect from America’s greatest minimalist, and therein lies the problem.

WTC 9/11 serves as a bookend to the Kronos Quartet’s 1988 collaboration with the composer, Different Trains: a profound work in which the strings echo the sampled speech of Holocaust survivors. Reich has rehashed the technique, this time with the voices of air traffic controllers and firemen who were among the first to grasp the magnitude of the American tragedy.

What fails to move me is the mimicry, so poignant in Different Trains but cumbersome and almost tasteless here. Redeeming melodic interest comes in a reflective section of Hebrew Psalms, sung by Jews who prayed for the dead on the scene.

Just shy of 16 minutes long, WTC 9/11 is as immediately terse and engaging as, say, Penderecki’s Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima. Reich’s structure and economy of means are masterful, but with the entire disc running to only 36 minutes I feel short-changed, despite the inclusion of a DVD. Even in fine readings by these revered Reich ensembles, Mallet Quartet and Dance Patterns feel like filler after such an emotional experience.

Copyright © Limelight Magazine. All rights reserved

This article appeared in the September, 2011 issue of Limelight Magazine.

What are your thoughts on this article? Have your say and leave your comments below.
NOTE: You must be a registered member of Limelight to post a comment.
Click here to login | Click here to register
Please read our guidelines on commenting. Offending posts will be removed and your access may be suspended. Abusive or obscene language will not be tolerated. The comments below do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Limelight or its employees.
REICH: WTC 9/11; Mallet Quartet; Dance Patterns (Kronos Quartet; So Percussion; Steve Reich)
Verdict
3 out of 5
Info
Supplier:
Nonesuch
Catalog
Composer
Current Issue
May 2014 issue on sale now!
What's On
 
Close Get the May 2014 issue of Limelight mailed to you for $8.50, including postage.

Buy now
Subscribe
Digital Version