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5.0 out of 5 stars The Ravishing Textures of Life
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...
Published on Feb. 3 2004 by liberty janus

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good recording, but not as balanced as the original ECM one.
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...
Published on Aug. 26 2000 by C. Broom


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good recording, but not as balanced as the original ECM one., Aug. 26 2000
By 
C. Broom (Glasgow) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Music for 18 Musicians (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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4.0 out of 5 stars Great music..., April 16 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Music for 18 Musicians (Audio CD)
...but I still like the ECM recording better. I only wish it were tracked.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Ravishing Textures of Life, Feb. 3 2004
By 
liberty janus (Seattle, WA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Music for 18 Musicians (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. And not just a slice of life, but a whole, urgently encompassing sense of life's textures, and moods, and endless flowing depths and dynamics. It's really a glorious thing that music can do this, and Reich's stunning achievement with "Music For 18 Musicians" was to accomplish this with his own new vocabulary, which he brought to fully realized maturity in this piece, and which so clearly and simply reduces commentary about movements and styles to insignificance in the face of such patiently and potently mesmerizing expression, unfolding its layers of sound, meaning, and complexity out of such basic tools.
But it's also just simply a gorgeous example of sonic manipulation, with seemingly endless textures flowing in and out with the carefully modulated interplay of repeated tones and motifs. There's no need to invoke aesthetic theory, or to listen to this piece only when a totally involving musical symbolism is needed to reaffirm one's connection to the world, because its rich textural flow functions just fine as simple ravishment, and its simplicity of structure can soothe and involve simultaneously, and that flow - that glorious, by turns gentle and then insistent flow, can just carry a listener away in rapture.
A seminal work like "Music For 18 Musicians" occupies a rare space, and accomplishes with seeming ease what lesser works are unable to do, and in doing so demonstrates the function and the power of truly great music to organize sound into a coherent symbolic representation of life's endless flowing textures. And that's a wonderful thing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Enter In!, Jan. 30 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Music For 18 Musicians (Audio CD)
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. Occasionally the piece gets under the skin when it seems not to change (although no timbre is repeated more than 4 times.) I have found that the intonation on the most recent recording is a bit off sometimes, but due to the nature of the piece this passes quite rapidly.
This is wonderful travel music. Think of the underlying themes as the horizon and more rapid motifs as what moves by close to the road. The hour-long piece will make the driving time fly by. Watch for speeding.
This is also incredible for listening to whilst on a treadmill.
I hope you buy it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Reich at his zenith, Jan. 26 2004
By 
This review is from: Music for 18 Musicians (Audio CD)
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 I couldn't help listening to it all.
This is probably the best, most complete release of "Music for 18" ever. It's also the most concise. While the ECM recording stands out on its own, it's not as full as this one is, and it certainly doesn't stand to the new methods of polytonality in the piece. It's like being in a minimalist washing machine: it takes away the dull, emotionless sounds of Glass and others and makes it alive, the way it should be.
Hands down, the best CD ever.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Steve Reich's "18", Dec 24 2003
This review is from: Music for 18 Musicians (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 Of course it's a classic..., July 1 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Music for 18 Musicians (Audio CD)
... even my son (7 years old ) likes it!
I wonder how much pop culture has actually flown into this piece of otherwise 'classical' music. Amazing, how 'electronic' the pieces sometimes sound; I had to read the liner notes several times, to find only pianos, marimbas, vibraphones, xylophones, maracas, violins, celli, bass clarinets, clarinets, altos, sopranos... It reminds me at at times of Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells" or Jean-Michel Jarre's "Equinoxe" or "Oxygene"...
Nevertheless: Wonderful music, many colors and timbres riding on a smart and original minimalistic (may SR forgive me!) backbone of rhythm and pulse. At the end of the day of course: Hands down, five stars, for both, composition and performance (with composer!).
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerizing!, April 30 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Music For 18 Musicians (Audio CD)
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 IIIb). It wouldn't be until recently (about 2002) that I find out that it was "Music for 18 Musicians" by Steve Reich. The ECM recording contains 1 track. I have the Nonesuch CD (which I like as much) which separates the sections into tracks - which I think it could've (or should've) been done on the ECM CD as well. I managed to figure out when a section begins by carefully comparing both CDs. I notice that the ECM mentioned 10 sections (possibly a missprint) while the Nonesuch mentioned 11. Here's listing which I think would be helpful to those who listen to the ECM CD:
Pulses 0:00
I 3:46
II 8:03
IIIA 12:04
IIIB 16:02
IV 20:05
V 25:53
VI 31:24
VII 35:53
VIII 39:29
IX 42:47
X 47:01
XI 48:34
Pulses 52:50
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5.0 out of 5 stars amazing breakthrough cornerstone piece, excellent recording, March 12 2003
This review is from: Music For 18 Musicians (Audio CD)
This recording of Reich's most canonical piece is perfect. & the music is absolutely brilliant. It has everything Reich did with compositional structure to that point; rests are gradually replaced with notes over a thick, juicy fabric of repetition. The musicians phase. There's also a new idea for him in this piece: music determined by the length of human breath, as the woodwinds periodically pulse a note, & each player pulses it just until s/he runs out of breathn. The music also is incredibly beautiful, in a way exceptionally modern & also eternally emotional. Get this cd. It's an absolute must for any Reich or minimalist collection.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most mind-blowing experiences on the planet, Dec 27 2002
By 
Graham V. Foy (Santa Fe, NM United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Music for 18 Musicians (Audio CD)
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. I had always loved it but I'm serious, you have to be on hallucinogens if you even want to grasp how insanely complicated it is. My friend was hearing it for the first time but he agreed, he had never heard anything like it. Imagine being immersed inside the purely abstract images of someone's brain and you'll have a decent idea what it was like. Buy the Nonesuch recording - it's MUCH better than any other version.
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Music for 18 Musicians
Music for 18 Musicians by Steve Reich (Audio CD - 1998)
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