The latest release in Nonesuch's series of Steve Reich recordings is Daniel Variations coupled with Variations for Vibes, Pianos, and Strings. Daniel Variations was one of the major new Reich works premiered in the composer's 70th birthday celebrations in 2006, and has been performed in the USA, throughout Europe and at the recent Composium feature in Japan.
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Reich explains: “Daniel Variations is in four movements using texts from the Biblical book of Daniel for the first and third movements and from the words of Daniel Pearl, the American Jewish reporter, kidnapped and murdered by Islamist extremists in Pakistan in 2002, for the second and fourth movements.”
The piece is scored for two sopranos and two tenors with two B-flat clarinets, four vibes, bass and kick drums, tam-tam, four pianos, and string quartet. It was co-commissioned by the Barbican Centre in London, Carnegie Hall in New York, Cité de la Musique in Paris, Casa de Musica in Porto, Portugal, and in memory of Daniel Pearl by an anonymous donor in association with Meet The Composer and the Daniel Pearl Foundation, which is dedicated to cross-cultural understanding and music. Daniel Variations was premiered at the Barbican in London in 2006 as part of Steve Reich’s 70th birthday celebration.
Variations for Vibes, Pianos, and Strings was premiered in Cologne, also in 2006, with choreography by leading British dancer and choreographer Akram Khan - performed by Khan’s company. Reich says: “This piece is scored for four vibraphones, two pianos, and three string quartets. The silver sound of vibraphones and strings together that I first encountered in The Four Sections (1987) suggested itself as the main overall sound of this piece. Variations for Vibes, Pianos, and Strings is a more traditional set of variations than You Are (Variations) (2004) that preceded it.”
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