What a wonderful, energising and even moving modern musical occasion this was. And if a little over-long as a programme at four hours, this evening dedicated to the great American composer, who was present, was crowned by a superlative last two-thirds stamped by the Sinfonietta's superb handling of Reich's Double Sextet, as well as his new work, Radio Rewrite.
Radio Rewrite is based on Reich's take on two Radiohead songs, Everything In Its Right Place and Jigsaw Falling Into Place. The bereft, weightless second movement offered a deepened, desolate take on Everything's drifting ennui, although Jigsaw's more sanguine chords and chorus arose most frequently in a what is a spirited, sometimes joyous, new work..
Reich himself, in regulation cap, performed Clapping Music with David Hockings (to much clapping). Mats Bergstrom's take on Electric Counterpoint was loose, lithe, and eloquent. The second movement was particularly glistening and beautiful. The band's punchy version of 2x5, a work for two "rock band" set-ups from 2008, was gripping, relentless and a little revelatory, the playing tight and attacking. Discussion of Reich's music often centres on his use of the canon, on cycling, repetition and counterpoint, but the ferocity of his work's rhythms are startling in a live context, as is the distilled anguish contained in some of the simplest of his motifs. The concert began with what appeared to be a technological problem with a version of My Name Is from 1967 and the first third of the concert was overlong. But the long night was eminently worth it.