Reich repertoire for strings: from quartets to orchestra(September 2001)
Steve Reich’s music is often associated with pulsing percussion and driving keyboards, but there is also a growing body of works for strings, enriched in recent years by multiple versions of Different Trains (1988) and Triple Quartet (1998).
The Kronos Quartet’s championing of Different Trains took the work around the globe and established it as one of the composer’s most admired scores. A new alternative version, orchestrated last year, now enables string orchestras to perform the work live with only the speech samples and train sounds remaining on tape. This version is a co-commission between the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Orchestre National de Lyon, and the premiere takes place in Philadelphia on 25 October conducted by David Robertson. The work is available for programming by other orchestras from 26 October 2002.
Since its first performance in May 1999 Triple Quartet has also enjoyed the advocacy of the Kronos Quartet, and its premiere recording is to be released in the coming months (Nonesuch 79546). Kronos continues to tour Triple Quartet, including the first London performance at the Barbican in May 2002, while the work is now also open for programming by other string quartets. As well as the original version for a live string quartet accompanied by two other pre-recorded string quartets on tape, alternative versions also exist for a string ensemble of 12 players and for an orchestral string section of 36 players, both without tape. The string orchestra version was performed by the New World Symphony under Bradley Lubman in March, and the French premiere in September features a string ensemble of players from Ensemble Itineraire, Orchestre Nationale and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France.
Triple Quartet is an extension of Reich’s Counterpoint series and adopts the familiar fast-slow-fast pattern, yet is a darker hued work than its predecessors. In the liner notes for the forthcoming Nonesuch recording Reich describes how it became “a piece considerably more dissonant and expressionistic than expected”, referring to influences including the energy of the last movement of Bartók’s Fourth Quartet, the density of writing in Schnittke’s Second Quartet, and the rhythmic style of Michael Gordon.
> Further information on Work: Different Trains [Orchestral Version - THIS VERSION IS WITHDRAWN]
Image: Steve Reich portrait (Photo: Alice Arnold/Nonesuch)
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