Reich: Double Sextet; Radio Rewrite

Reviewed on Tue 06 Dec, 2016

Radio Rewrite (2013) is inspired by the band Radiohead, whose songs supply some recognisable chord sequences and quasi–electronic ambience. Performances are astute and well balanced, with all the assertive clarity these scores require.

These two recent works by Steve Reich demonstrate his recent style, closely related to his 70s/80s scores, but less complex in their phase shifting and transitions, though just as structurally concise. In Double Sextet (2007), we hear sustained woodwinds, reminiscent of Eight Lines, over Reich’s trademark pulsating pianos and tuned percussion. The slow second movement relies on smooth jazz-derived harmonies for a laid-back mood, a significant departure from his earlier work. Radio Rewrite (2013) is inspired by the band Radiohead, whose songs supply some recognisable chord sequences and quasi–electronic ambience. But otherwise this is pure Reich. The string writing here recalls the strident violins in Different Trains, and the build-up in texture towards the final climax is beautifully constructed. Performances are astute and well balanced, with all the assertive clarity these scores require. Steve Reich fans will have no trouble connecting with this music, though it lacks the radical edge of his greatest works.
–Gavin Dixon