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Music for 18 Musicians [Import]

S. Reich Audio CD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 22.44 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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This has to be Steve Reich's most difficult work to perform; but he's done it. Several times. Music for 18 Musicians is for violin, cello, two clarinets doubling bass clarinet, four women's voices, four pianos, three marimbas, two xylophones, and a metallophone (vibraphone with no motor). It's a 1974 composition that focuses entirely on the rich staccato that gives minimalism its unique sound. However, Reich turns all of this into actual music by adding the richness of the metallophone and the women's voices. Whatever else people may have said about minimalism, pro or con, a work such as Music for 18 Musicians demonstrates its legitimacy. --Paul Cook

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
If I had to cite one piece of music that stood out as monumental landmark in the music somewhat problematically known as "minimalism", then Reich's 'Music for 18 Musicians' would be it. A beautiful, lush, shimmering piece which sounds as fresh now as it did when it was written about 25 years ago. The experience of listening to this piece never seems to diminish, even with frequent listenings.
That said, the Nonesuch recording overall isn't nearly as well-balanced as the original ECM one. The all-important bass clarinets have been mixed lower. The Nonesuch recording also introduces index points for easy access to sections of the pieces, but the only way to really experience this piece is from start to finish, without a break.
In short, I would recommend the ECM recording over this one for overall sound. (It also has a beautifully apt cover design, featuring artwork by Reich's wife, Beryl Korot).
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Ravishing Textures of Life Feb. 3 2004
Format:Audio CD
When a work of this stature invokes a level of profound and richly rewarding response from a listener, its difficult to know, or to offer any explanation for, just what it is that separates a work of this magnitude from music, even excellent music, which just doesn't reach this level of expression. And this isn't music that's likely to turn everybody's crank, either, as by any standard that considers the vast range of kinds and qualities of music available in the world today, its unique, unusual, and insistently individualistic in almost every way.
This music is capable of functioning on any number of different levels, as the many Amazon reviews show. On a less complex level of response its ravishing surface textures can be accepted as simple ravishment, its simple harmonic structure can be enjoyed for its simplicity, and its flowing tempos can absorb a listener in the sheer sense of encompassing flow. Yet for many listeners the amazingly rich washes of sound arising from the intricate interlacing of simply repeated but subtly shifting motifs engender a complex, suffusing experience that somehow transcends any attempt to limit the listening response to individual elements or individual emotional responses. Like any great musical work this piece offers a more encompassing, synthesized representation of a way of looking at, responding to, and understanding the world, and any listener fortunate enough to have their synapses firing along the same lines is apt to experience a truly involving and powerful response.
This music offers a powerful metaphor of life itself. Not literal, not representational, not discursive, but cogent, coherent, and rich with the depth and involving flow of life.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Steve Reich's "18" Dec 24 2003
By nimrod
Format:Audio CD
Steve Reich is a composer who I admittedly just recently discovered, and know very little about. On the whim of a recommendation from a trusted source, I ordered this album. Thank God for recommendations...
This album is performed by 18 musicians at the top of their games. This album is melodic, haunting, lush, groovy, complex. You cannot argue with Reich's intricate, interwoven melodies on various mallet percussion, piano, woodwinds, and voice. The melodies lay on top of each other and zigzag between each other for the full length of this brilliant work. You would think 60+ minutes of instrumental music put in one song would be dull, but there isn't a single dull moment to be found. This piece is as catchy as anything on Top 40 radio, and yet the genius and nuances are always there to be found, every time you listen.
The music is pretty hard to describe. As I mentioned, there are only 18 musicians on a handful of instruments. Reich's composition sees instruments entering and exiting with melodies that zigzag between, under, and over each other. The intense dynamics of the crescendos and decrescendos gives certain parts an almost electronic feel. This, along with the aforementioned layered entrances allows the piece to build, until it drops off about halfway through...and then starts again. Throughout all of this, there is the mallet percussion vamp that the song starts with in "Pulses". This music dances, it is alive. Each subsequent melody is as catchy as the last. The music will demand your attention and lull you into hypnosis at the same time. It is like a dreamlike trance put to music. It ebbs and it flows. It grooves. It must be heard to really understand, but it is awesome.
There's so much I want to say about this album, but I'm not really sure how. It has completely blown my mind. It is the ultimate fusion of artistic vision, musical genius, and accessibility.
True 5 Star Album. Highly recommended for all.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Recording, Not A Live Performance Dec 11 2001
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
I own all three recordings of Music For 18 Musicians; I suggest that for anyone who is truly interested in the work, owning all three is a must.
In order of preference for me, the recordings go ECM, RCA, and Nonesuch.
No recording of 18 quite captures the piece as it sounds live. (I've had the luck to see it twice with Steve Reich & Musicians at the San Francisco Symphony.) However, the ECM version comes close to duplicating the timbre of the real thing. To my ears, it sounds the most "live".
The RCA/Ensemble Modern recording is perhaps the best performed. Ensemble Modern emphasizes Reich's earlier philosophies about music as a process; they clearly delineate the various instruments and lines in the recording, and they properly accentuate the lead mallet lines. (I say "proper" because that's what it sounded like when I saw 18 performed live.) What this recording lacks in lush beauty, it gains in near-academic perfection.
The new Nonesuch recording was designed from the ground up to be a recording, not a live performance. Most instruments are close-mic'd, which gives the odd feeling of standing next to all of the instruments at the same time. I love it for its open spaces, surprising tempo, and stunning imaging of the mallet instruments. It is as lush and beautiful as the ECM recording, but I prefer the subtleties and pacing of the ECM more.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great music...
...but I still like the ECM recording better. I only wish it were tracked.
Published on April 16 2004
1.0 out of 5 stars am i crazy--or is it just you?
ok. everyone just LOVES this recording.... I dont have a CLUE why . it is driving me crazy trying to figure out what they like. Read more
Published on Feb. 18 2004 by hero
5.0 out of 5 stars Enter In!
I don't know into what kinds of waves this composition puts your brain; delta, alpha, or what...but your brain will thank you for listening. Read more
Published on Jan. 30 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Reich at his zenith
I love Steve Reich's music. I actually used to be a Philip Glass fan, but it chanced one day that I was surfing on the 'Net and discovered a little site with mp3 of this piece, and... Read more
Published on Jan. 26 2004 by Joseph Galván
5.0 out of 5 stars Of course it's a classic...
... even my son (7 years old ) likes it!
I wonder how much pop culture has actually flown into this piece of otherwise 'classical' music. Read more
Published on July 1 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerizing!
That sure is one mesmerizing hour-long work. I remembered first hearing parts of the work on the PBS Series "Cosmos" (particulaly, "Pulses", Sections I and... Read more
Published on April 30 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing breakthrough cornerstone piece, excellent recording
This recording of Reich's most canonical piece is perfect. & the music is absolutely brilliant. Read more
Published on March 12 2003 by I X Key
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most mind-blowing experiences on the planet
A few days ago a friend of mine and I took some mushrooms and I decided to throw this on. Holy God, what a piece of music this is. Read more
Published on Dec 27 2002 by Graham V. Foy
4.0 out of 5 stars Wow
Just heard this for the first time. If you're an artist of any kind, put it on while you're at work on something, i think it made my left brain more eccentric, but still... Read more
Published on Oct. 25 2002 by Alec
5.0 out of 5 stars Best version?
This kind of music improves togheter with extraordanary sound. It shine MORE than ever because of that and Nonesuch has succeeded on that topic. Read more
Published on June 14 2002
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