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Dip Your Ears, No. 237 (A Stickler for Clapping Along - Steve Reich)

available at Amazon
Steve Reich,
Sextet, Music for Pieces of Wood, Clapping Music
London Symphony Orchestra Percussion Ensemble (hands)
(LSO Live)

Typical contemporary music recital: Only two or three people in the crowd, but before the chaps with wooden blocks even begin to bang them together (twelve rhythmically shifting minutes long), they applaud the performers for another three or four minutes. Oh, wait, it’s just Steve Reich’s Clapping Music preceding Music for Pieces of Wood. Mhwak-mhwak: My apologies. Minimalism is such a ripe target for gentle mocking that any attempt to do so will automatically trigger a trope-alert. It’s especially unwarranted with Steve Reich, who, miraculously, manages to be—to my ears at least—the purest of the famous minimalists but also the one least prone to becoming his own cliché. The LSO Percussion Ensemble does a splendid job with this music—which may not be very obvious in isolation but becomes notable when this recording turns out catchier and more incisive than master-percussionist’s Colin Currie recent Reich album (“Live at Foundation Louis Vuitton”) which has Music for Pieces of Wood and Clapping Music in common with this one. Especially Clapping Music is telling: Although both accounts are live, one sounds like a perfectionist recording of a composer’s point (LSO) – the other like a get-together of hippies indulging in a musico-intellectual fancy. Also available on Vinyl.

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