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Steve Reich Audio CD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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1. Drumming: Part I
2. Drumming: Part II
3. Part III
4. Drumming: Part IV

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This was Reich's breakthrough masterpiece, inspired by his studies of African drumming. The patterns throughout this music are so powerful and hypnotic that, once you get involved, it's a shock when it ends an hour later. I have enjoyed this piece most in concert when Reich's ensemble used the maximum number of repetitions allowed (optional in the score). I regret somewhat the decision used in making this recording, which held the timing to under an hour. The first recording of Drumming ran to nearly 90 minutes. But it also ran onto a second CD, and it's no longer available. Meanwhile, for anyone open to the power of this music, this is a disc not to be missed. --Leslie Gerber

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth The Wait Dec 8 2003
Format:Audio CD
After repeatedly restraining myself from buying the truncated Nonesuch 'Drumming', I finally gave in to my urge by getting this re-release of the original 85-minute recording from 1974. Unlike the other reviewer, listening to the whole thing was no problem. In fact, I wouldn't have minded if it were longer. The music is entrancing, fluid, graceful and motivating. (It's terrific workout music!) The simplicity of its beginnings give way to exhuberant complexity again and again, continually arriving in surprizing places. My only complaint is the idiotic, flimsy cardboard packaging, which has been specially designed not to fit in slots made for CD jewel cases, and to last for weeks, perhaps months of use. I guess the folks at Echo 20/21 don't know about the convenient 2CD jewel cases that are used for most double sets!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Original "Drumming" Is Back!! Dec 9 2003
Format:Audio CD
"Drumming" is composer Steve Reich's most adventurous and challenging composition. Composed between 1970 and 1971, "Drumming" takes the genre of percussion-based music to a new level. Its use of syncopated and phase-shifting rhythms remains innovative (and some would say pioneering) even today.
The original recording of "Drumming" was made in Germany in 1974 and was released on the Deutsch Grammaphone Label. This version had been unavailable for many years and had become a sought-after collectors item. However, all things must come to pass because now, the much sought-after original recording of "Drumming" has been issued on CD for the very first time at its original length of 84-minutes (the later 1987 recording on Nonesuch Records featured a trimmed-down version running at 56-minutes).
"Drumming" is divided into four distinct parts or movements. The first part is performed entirely on three sets of tuned bongos played with drumsticks. It begins with a single drumbeat which builds up to a syncopated rhythm which carries the entire piece the rest of the way. Throughout it's 25-minutes, this opening section explores nearly every possibility of what can be done with a single simple repeated rhythm. The method of 'phase-shifting' (having one player go out of synch with the other) adds further complexity.
The first part leads directly into the second part as the bongos fade out and the marimbas take over. The marimbas carry on with the piece's simple rhythm which is augmented by two female singers mimicking the pitches with vocal scats. As this part of the piece progresses, the marimbas gradually move from their lowest register to their highest.
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5.0 out of 5 stars More alive than the Nonesuch recording! Dec 3 2003
Format:Audio CD
Steve Reich's "Drumming" is an amazing piece of work showing how much you can do with one - yes one - continuous musical phrase. Sometimes I even feel guilty when thinking, "Goodness, I wish Reich would do just one more phasing piece". I love the old Reich and am not afraid to admit it. This album, then, is a dream come true.
Whiile I am a young fan (26) from what I can ascertain this was the original 1973 recording. Maybe it is becuase the piece was so new then but this recording has much more life in it than the Nonesuch. Particularly the first and second movement are noticeable in that the first is more bombastic towards its apex while the second while in some senses calmer than the Nonesuch recording, has this hidden forward motion-energy that is more powerful than the Nonesuch track.
All in all, this piece is a joy and I jump at the chance to hear any recording of it. The only complaints are slight. AS it is a '73 recording, some of the overtones in the second and third movements occasionally sound out of tune (the low marimba and a few of the glockenspiel tones for example) - not because they WERE out, but because (my guess) they recorded that way. Second, of course, is the fact taht one cannot listen straight through, as this is a two-disc set. Small potatoes in relation to such a good recording!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Ok, but the old DG version is much better July 16 2002
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
Preface - Probably not for first time Reich buyers (along with Four Organs). Newcomers should get Music for 18 Musicians or Different Trains....
I have to admit I heard the old DG version first on LP many years ago, and have looked for that version on CD ever since. When this version came out, I bought it immediately. In comparison to the DG version, it doesn't hold up.
This version is at least 20 minutes shorter (perhaps a feature for some;) ) than the DG version, but the gradual changes in this version don't happen nearly gradually enough, especially the sections where different players go in and out of phase with each other. It happens so quickly here that it just sounds like the players flubbed their parts. The slower pace of the DG version makes the subtle changes in the piece that much more rewarding.
I was later able to locate a copy of the DG version on CD, and this one has been gathering dust ever since. But since no other version is available, this is worth a listen.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good stuff April 27 2000
Format:Audio CD
Since the old, 2CD DG recording of this piece is not available, this is the only choice. "Drumming" is a very fine work by Reich, more rigorous and less immediately lovely than "Music for 18 Musicians," but rewarding nonetheless. It's an important transition piece between his early work and "18." The first section is literally all drumming, and builds through an arch structure using Reich's technique of rhytmic patterns moving in and out of phase. The following sections add tuned percusion, e.g. marimbas, and move towards his newer style of more harmonic richness, with chords gradually building, shifting, conflicting and moving to new tonal centers. Obviously, if Reich's style of Minimalism doesn't appeal, you won't like this CD. But if you enjoy his other work, this will be a great addition to your collection.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive recordings of all pieces...
This is a brilliant insight into some of Reich's percussive works, with well played versions of each piece - who would expect less from Reich's own ensemble? Read more
Published on June 14 2004 by Jonny B
5.0 out of 5 stars Great recording, available with more though...
This is clearly the best recording of Drumming. The long phase shifts have an incredible effect, and the performance is note perfect for the whole hour and a half! Read more
Published on May 19 2004 by Jonny B
5.0 out of 5 stars perfect texture for a room
This is the piece in which Reich first developed the technique of gradually replacing rests with notes & notes with rests. & he does it so well! Read more
Published on March 12 2003 by I X Key
5.0 out of 5 stars Hypnotic Dance/Complexity Theory
This hour-plus piece of music is based upon a single, measure-long rhythmic fragment which lasts perhaps two seconds, but when played out-of-phase with itself generates an... Read more
Published on Jan. 11 2003 by C. Gardner
5.0 out of 5 stars a masterpiece of contemporary music
This piece represents a great achievement in the Minimalist approach to writing music. Fresh from studying African drumming, Reich took an entire year to write and revise this... Read more
Published on July 17 2000 by J. Byrd
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed...
My first exposure to Steve Reich was the perfection of his "18 Musicians." I've since tried five or six of his other titles, but I rarely if ever play them. Read more
Published on Feb. 29 2000 by Stephen Foster
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