Photos courtesy of LA Phil.
The Village VOICE has called Steve Reich (born 1936) “America’s greatest living composer.” The New Yorker has called him “the most original musical thinker of our time” and the New York Times said he is among the great composers of the century. As a two-time Grammy winner and a Pulitzer Prize winner, it was a true honor to hear his work performed by the LA Phil New Music Group under the direction of conductor Jeffrey Milarsky. Milarsky is known for his wide range of repertoire which spans from Bach to Xenakis.
The concert opened with a soothing performance of the Mallet Quartet (2009). The Mallet Quartet is scored for two vibraphones and two-octave marimbas. The melodic beats of this Matthew Howard, James Baby, Jeffrey Grant and Nick Terry were complemented by the high ceilings and dramatic blue and green lighting of the Disney Concert Hall. Progressive melodies built up into a trance-like aura and then transitioned into a relaxing enchantment that mimicked the steady flow of calm flowing waves. The combination of dissonance and sweet sounding harmonies are confusing but make the audience ponder the meaning of this fantastic ensemble.
The next part was the west coast premiere of Pulse (2015) featuring the LA Phil co-commission with generous support of the Lenoir S. and Bernard A. Greenberg Fund. A mesmerizing contemporary melody was played by the strings at different variations while the piano and bass guitar accompanied with a steady beat. We imagined visuals of vibrant flowers blooming out of the winter as spring was about to unfold. Then stark dramatic tones fell onto the audience as if a complex contemplation was about to unfold.
“From time to time this constant pulse is accented differently through changing hand alternation patterns on the piano. All in all, a calmer more contemplative piece lasting about 16 minutes,” said Reich.