Steve Reich Review

Having had its world premiere just two nights prior in London, you suspect the main reason many of the audience are at the Dome tonight is to witness minimalist composer Steve Reich’s interpretation of two Radiohead songs (‘Jigsaw Falling Into Place’ and ‘Everything In Its Right Place’).

Despite the fact he and the London Sinfonietta, and other electric musicians, are also performing four other works of his, the feeling – and poster artwork – dictates that the Radiohead connection is the draw here. But before that come 1972’s ‘Clapping Music’, an amplified handclap duet which draws the viewer/listener in and expands into subtle shifts and contrasting yin and yang versions of itself, Escher-esque. Then 1987’s ‘Electric Counterpoint’ is performed, a solo piece for electric guitar which is drenched in delay, sampled by The Orb on ‘Little Fluffy Clouds’.

After the intermission, ‘Radio Rewrite’ itself is performed by a cross-section of strings, drums, xylophone, electric bass and conductor. To those with no previous experience of live modern classical music – certainly your SOURCE reviewer and quite possibly a larger percentage of the audience tonight – the enjoyment comes not from trying to slavishly work out which bits relate to the Radiohead songs they take as their springboard, but rather to surrender to the abstraction and be surprised when the vocal line of Thom Yorke is screeched out by violin towards the end. Or to be drawn in by conductor Brad Lubman’s back, coaxing sound from his musical army with triangles in the air cast by both his arms as the finale (loosely similar to ‘Jigsaw’ itself) careers around him.

At moments of recognition such as this, the largest cheers of the night erupt from the crowd, but to be honest, as a whole, the five works in total tonight (the Sinfonietta also performs 2008’s ‘2×5’ and 2007’s ‘Double Sextet’) are better experienced as one, rather than being dipped in and out of and cherry-picked for highlights.

Dome, Thursday 7th March 2013
Words by Jake Kennedy
Photo by Kevin Leighton

Reviews 5 years old

Jake Kennedy

Jake has written about music for yonks and once wrote a book on Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures. He's contributed to The Guardian, NME, Metal Hammer, Record Collector, Nuts and The Angler’s Mail, among others.

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