Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The joy of repetition really is in me…

Bonus points if you know where I stole that title from.

Anyway, if you tune in to Radio 3 tonight, you can hear one of my very favourite composers performing a world premier of his new work, live in London. The composer is Steve Reich, and the piece is Radio Rewrite, written after Reich came across Radiohead and liked what he heard. Reich famously doesn't 'get' pop music (he's a jazz fan), so Radiohead must really have impressed him. It's also a sly tribute to pop music's magpie tendencies: The Orb's rather lovely Little Fluffy Clouds is built on a sample of Reich's Electric Counterpoint. Actually, I don't 'get' Radiohead either. I quite liked the album that sounded like Aphex Twin's Ventolin but otherwise they don't do much for me. Although most of my music is pretty gloomy, I tend to side with Cher in Clueless when she teased her over-serious college student stepbrother for his taste in 'complaint rock'.

At the concert, Reich will also perform his early piece Clapping Music, which highlights all the technical aspects of his version of minimalism, Electric Counterpoint, 2 x 5 and Double Sextet. And here's a taste of all of them except Radio Rewrite, which isn't available.

This is the recent live performance of Clapping Music at a music festival, by Steve Reich and David Cossin. Reich's the one on the right.

Here's Electric Counterpoint. It requires the guitarist to pre-record some tracks then play live against (with?) them. You Radiohead fans might enjoy the version by Jonny Greenwood, their guitarist. It's rather good - as is Greenwood's own experimental music, Popcorn Superhet Receiver, a Penderecki tribute.

Here's 2 x 5: not my favourite Reich piece, but it has some thrilling moments. It's another one scored basically for a rock band.

And here's part one of Double Sextet, which is one of my Reich favourites.

Will I be tuning in to this historic live broadcast tonight?

Er… no. Because tomorrow night, I'll be at Birmingham Town Hall where Reich and Co will be doing the whole thing all over again. I would say 'join me' but you can't: it sold out ages ago. Don't worry though: I'll tell you all about it on Thursday. Does that sound smug? Because I'm feeling smug. At least, I think that's what it is. I don't normally have anything to feel smug about so I'm not sure. But it probably is smugness I'm feeling.

Meanwhile, my latest classical purchase is a collection called Mystery Variations on Colombi's Chiacona: in which loads of contemporary composers wrote variations on Colombi's piece for Anssi Karttunen, the cellist. It's really, really good.

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