Iconoclastic American composer Steve Reich is singular in his own right, and when he is in conversation with other equally iconoclastic composers, conductors, sculptors, musicians, percussionists, and video artists, sparks not only fly, they sparkle ... the best kind of eavesdropping.
While most conversations focus primarily on Reich (b. 1936), the book is strongest when there’s a genuine dialogue between composers ... Conversations in which little is learned of the other participant’s output lack the depth of other exchanges. Even there, however, the shoptalk is a thrill to read. Reich fans will develop a greater appreciation of his music, with sections on his mastery of the use of tape loops, his innovations in phase music, the rehearsals for Drumming, and the use of strings in parallel with recorded voices in Different Trains. Those new to Reich will discover an eclectic composer who has drawn from sources as disparate as electronic devices made at Bell Labs in the 1960s and the music of 12th-century French composer Pérotin to create the hypnotic Four Organs. Conversations with conductors Michael Tilson Thomas and David Robertson are particularly rich thanks to their enthusiasm and expansiveness and the depth of technical detail ... A rewarding journey through the career of one of the pioneers of minimalist music.