music of Steve Reich, besides being central to the development of music as a
whole since his earliest works of the 1960s, is to me a uniquely beautiful,
lyrical, and completely captivating world. Utterly distinctive, his harmonic
voice is as fascinating as his instinct for instrumental color and combination,
his command of rhythm as original as his dexterity with counterpoint and
structure. It is simply not possible to imagine our musical lives without him
and his astonishing creativity and influence.
Many of us have had epiphanic moments when performing his pieces. For me, one
happened during my first time performing Drumming (for
the composer’s 70th birthday celebrations at the BBC Proms in 2006) with the
ensemble that became my own unit devoted to his music, The Colin Currie Group.
I recall the dizzying effect of the full power of his processes, the realization
of certain musical mantras in real time, and the sheer depth of this perfectly
simple, yet endlessly complex material. This piece has become a key one for me,
and it is a joy to bring it to Carnegie Hall in the composer’s presence.
Quartet is a miraculous new work—one of the most ambitious in Reich’s output
and one of the most enthralling. A true piece of chamber music, it requires
great sensitivity from the ensemble with the two pairs of musicians combining
for a mighty foursome. When I saw the score for the first time, I told the
composer that it seemed he was “going-on-80, going-on-18”—such is the
immaculate vigor on display here. Furthermore, I’m delighted with the strident
and impassioned melodic sense, especially ebullient in the rapturous finale.
Perfectly formed, thoroughly gripping. Thank you, Steve Reich, for all that you
have brought us.