Minimal: Steve Reich in Glasgow - Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Sat 8 Mar 2013
Programme includes Radio Rewrite and older pieces mixes beauty with technical
This celebration of a modern icon doesn’t start well, with an IT failure causing a sizeable delay, during which the crowd perform a spontaneous, good-natured crowd version of Reich’s ‘Clapping Music’. Once things get going, the first, electronically-oriented section is marred by dated and/or sterile synth sounds and awkwardly bolted-on digital effects and glitches.
The second part returns to ‘Clapping Music’, performed by Reich himself and percussionist David Hockings. This technical rhythmic exercise should be as dry as it gets, but handclaps are invariably irresistible. Guitarist Mats Bergström performs a nimble ‘Electric Counterpoint’, the fourth and best ‘… Counterpoint’ of the evening – but arguably one too many. ‘2x5’ transfers Reich’s phasing and contrapuntal ideas to a rock line-up. His intricate patterns necessitate a clean sound, but tonight the guitars veer towards shrill and tinny. Thankfully, Enno Saft’s bass and John Constable’s piano provide much-needed grit.
The London Sinfonietta provide the climax: the Scottish première of ‘Radio Rewrite’, inspired by the music of Radiohead. ‘Jigsaw’ and ‘Everything in its Right Place’ are broken down into fragments and themes, infusing Reich’s always fascinating music with the emotional core it can sometimes appear to lack. A drifting, dreamlike mid-section is profoundly beautiful, and casts into sharp relief the keenly technical nature of the rest of the evening.