- Audio CD (Sep 24 2002)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Classical, Import, CD
- Label: Nonesuch
- ASIN: B000005IXI
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Audio Cassette
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
|1. The Desert Music: First Movement (Fast)|
|2. The Desert Music: Second Movement (Moderate)|
|3. The Desert Music: Third Movement Part One (Slow)|
|4. The Desert Music: Third Movement Part Two (Moderate)|
|5. The Desert Music: Third Movement Part Three (Slow)|
|6. The Desert Music: Fourth Movement (Moderate)|
|7. The Desert Music: Fifth Movement (Fast)|
If you like this piece you should also check out "Olson III" by Terry Riley - the city of this piece is a wild ride into the very fabric that we live in everyday. Democracy, or so they say.
The Desert Music is Reich's first effort to really compose for symphony orchestra, and he seems to be trying to step into other composers' shoes, to write a great symphonic work in the tradition of so many choral-orchestral masterpieces. But really, this isn't where Reich's gifts are. His athletic counterpoint comes out sounding bloated, awkward, heavy, and -- to my taste -- a little slow. Nowhere on this recording does one hear the lightness of touch that this music requires. Reich's own ensemble approaches even his most rhythmically complex scores with grace, ease, and a sort of pop-music stylishness. Probably, it's not possible to do that with the mammoth 108 player Desert Music orchestra.
There might well be a good piece in The Desert Music -- certainly there's some gorgeous writing. But I don't think it'd being heard here. Michael Tilson Thomas and the Brooklyn Phil do excellent work, but I suggest waiting for the anticipated release of Reich's chamber version of The Desert Music, which is supposed to be coming out soon. I've heard this version performed live, and it's much more successful than the original orchestration. And if you're anxious to get a piece of Reich in your home, he's got a whole lot of great chamber music out there on record already.
A fine example of a contemporary composer really hearing a poet can be found in Steve Swallow's settings of poems by Robert Creeley on the album "Home."
The Desert Music is worthwhile, but probably not the port of entry for Steve Reich's music. For that I could recommend Music for 18 Musicians; Music for Mallet Instruments, Voice & Organ; or Different Trains.