Steve Reich

I’ve had a hectic couple weeks and not been able to post as much as I would have liked. All last week, in fact, I wanted to get something up about WQXR’s week-long Steve Reich festival. It’s over now, and unfortunately a good chunk of it doesn’t appear to be archived on the station’s website. But lots of amazing stuff is still there — including almost 30 years of local radio interviews — and I think I have a strategy for making the most of Reich’s introductions to several of his key pieces.

Take New York Counterpoint (1985), for example, originally written for a solo clarinet with additional pre-recorded clarinets backing. Reich’s introduction is here:

Although they don’t allow you to stream the piece from the site once you’ve listened to these intros, you can find most if not all of the pieces mentioned at Lulu, where you can listen for free (and find info about purchasing if you’d like to). For some of the more popular pieces, you may be able to find live performances archived on YouTube. Compare these versions of New York Counterpoint, for instance, one using clarinets, another using saxophones, all parts played live rather than having some of them pre-recorded:

It’s hard to think of a living composer more identified with New York City than Reich; the WQXR archives — though I wish they contained archives of the entire festival — will provide long-time fans and newcomers alike with several hours of distraction, er, background noise, while you’re doing something very productive. Such as updating your blog.