It gave Svend Brown the ideal intro to his onstage interview with the composer, the latest of his Unesco City of Music Inspiring Encounters. Given the complexity of the score we were about to hear, it is worth noting quite how lucidly – and frankly – Reich talks about his music, whether responding to Brown or members of the audience in the open session.
He also more or less blamed Scottish percussionist Colin Currie ("One of the greatest musicians in the world today") for the demise of the composer's own group, reasoning that Reich's own musicians had been shown how to play Drumming when Currie formed his band to perform it in London in 2006. Which makes it perfectly reasonable to say that I do not expect to hear this remarkable hour-long piece played better. Reich may now be an avowedly non-orchestral composer, but when all nine percussionists are playing the three marimbas on stage, and the whole is topped off by the two female singers of Synergy Vocals, if the sound is not exactly lush, it is hard to imagine music that is any richer. The precision of the palette of Drumming – bongoes, marimbas, glockenspiels, voices and piccolo – is as crucial as the ground-breaking rhythmic technique and spare harmonic content.
The production values of its presentation on the concert hall stage, with effective lighting and vision-mixing from an array of cameras on two screens above the players, were also exemplary.