Boosey & Hawkes Composer News

Steve Reich: new Mallet Quartet reviews and travel plans

(July 2010)

Steve Reich's new Mallet Quartet was premiered by Amadinda in Budapest in December and is set to travel internationally with a group of leading percussion ensembles

The sound of mallet percussion, fusing rhythm with resonance, is one of the most recognisable colours in Steve Reich’s palette and his new Mallet Quartet casts the spotlight on a quartet of two vibraphones and two marimbas. The work is a four-way commission for leading percussion groups in Hungary, the USA, Canada and Australia: Budapest Palace of Arts for Amadinda Percussion Group, Stanford Lively Arts for So Percussion, NEXUS and Synergy Percussion. Following the premiere in Budapest last December, Mallet Quartet has travelled to Stanford, Sydney and Toronto with future performances planned in London and New York.

“Both rhythm and counterpoint recede into the background, replaced by a series of emphatic block chords that are borne along on a current of busy accompaniment figures… In place of the composer’s usual modal harmonies, Mallet Quartet trades in the language of jazz and pop… Even the instrumentation has a jazzy feel to it, with the marimbas serving as an unobtrusive rhythm section and the vibraphones doing the solo work.” San Francisco Chronicle

“Mallet Quartet represents Reich’s first deployment of the five-octave marimba, which has generated a lush tapestry of sounds at the lower end of the spectrum. The two marimbas, conjoined with a pair of vibraphones, yield startling cadences and sudden thematic shifts that fall on the ear like a forest of gossiping wind chimes.” Financial Times

> Further information on Work: Mallet Quartet

Photo: Reich with Amadinda at premiere of Mallet Quartet (Palace of Arts Budapest/Zsuzsa Petö)

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