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CHAN 5091
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CHAN 5091

Reich: Three Movements/ The Desert Music

The Classical Shop
release date: June 2011

Recorded in 24 Bit / 48Khz
album available as a Studio Master
Originally recorded in 2006


Tonkunstler-Orchester Niederosterreich

Kristjan Jarvi

Chorus sine nomine


Musikverein, Vienna

ORF Radio Kulturhaus, Vienna


Philip Traugott

Ralph Couzens

(Executive, Chandos)

Johannes Neubert

(Executive, Tonkunstler-Orchester)


Wolfgang Fahrner

(The Desert Music)

Anton Reininger

(Three Movements)

Record Label



Orchestral & Concertos

Total Time - 60:18
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(b. 1936)

Three Movements

  for Orchestra  
  For the Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress, and dedicated to the memory of Serge and Natalie Koussevitzky  
1 I Crotchet = c. 176 - 184 - 6:38
2 II Crotchet = c. 88 - 92 - 3:26
3 III Crotchet = c. 176 - 184 4:23

The Desert Music

4 I Crotchet = c. 192 - 7:56
5 III Crotchet = c. 128 - 6:39
6 III Crotchet = c. 85 - Crotchet = c. 128 - Crotchet = c. 85 - 17:33
7 IV Crotchet = c. 128 3:27
8 V Crotchet = c. 192 10:16

The American composer Steve Reich pioneered the style of minimalism in music. He has been hugely influential on contemporary composers such as John Adams, but also on the progressive rock movement of the 80s with bands such as King Crimson and rock musicians such as Brian Eno. The Guardian has described him as one of ‘a handful of living composers who can legitimately claim to have altered the direction of musical history’.

The Desert Music is perhaps Reich’s most ambitious orchestral score to date – a setting of texts by the American poet William Carlos Williams (1886 – 1963) for chorus and large orchestra. It is a highly symphonic piece which is inspired by Reich’s own travels in California’s Mojave Desert, the White Sands – and perhaps in particular the Alamagordo in New Mexico, which carries sinister associations with secret weapons of mass destruction and suggests a geographical link with the poet’s somber warning to mankind in the work’s central movement.

Another opportunity to write for large orchestra came when the St Louis Symphony Orchestra commissioned Reich to write his Three Movements. This work was premiered in St Louis under Leonard Slatkin in April 1986. As in The Desert Music, the sizeable string section is divided, here into two subsections which are placed to the left and right of the conductor to create the alternating antiphonal effect that is so characteristic of Reich’s style.

Hearing these performances, Steve Reich described them as ‘Incisive, focused, and intense’ and continued ‘this recording of Three Movements is the best I have ever heard. The Desert Music is full, rich, yet full of detail. Kristjan Järvi, the Tonkünstler-Orchester, and Sine Nomine perform with a relaxed rhythmic precision that perfectly fits the music. Bravo and thanks to all.’

This is the third SACD recording on Chandos by the Vienna-based Tonkünstler-Orchester, Niederösterreich under Kristjan Jarvi, its Chief Conductor and Music Director from 2004 – 2009. They are joined by Chorus Sine Nomine, one of Austria’s leading vocal ensembles and winner of numerous awards and prizes.

Favourite Classical albums of 2011

"...One of the most absolutely exhilarating and pop-shimmering Reich discs of recent years. Coductor Kristjan Järvi (who guides the Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich and Chorus sine nomine) deserves to clicm the pop charts with this one."

Richard Scheinin - The Mercury - 28 December 2011

“...a stunningly fine recording, rich and detailed, with extraordinary solid bass, and a broad, deep soundstage. The orchestra and chorus are quite simply amazing. Excellent notes seal the deal. Not to be missed.”

Ronald E Grames – Fanfare – November/December 2011

                                            Choral & Song Choice
                                    Performance  *****        Recording *****

“…here Kristjan J?rvi sets a new bench mark. These powerful readings infuse Reich’s New York vigour with loose-limbed elegance, yet giving a menacing edge to the pulsating rhythms and dynamics. J?rvi does full justice to the more lyrical antiphonal passages and, helped by the superbly detailed sound, maintains a clear focus on each of the piece’s structural details as well as keeping a firm grip on their sweeping trajectories.”

Barry Witherden – BBC Music magazine – September 2011   

“Near-perfect performances which deliver a tautly satisfying experience.”

Daniel Ross – BBC website music review – 31 May 2011

“...Both performances are excellent, recorded with complementary sound emphasising Reich’s range of texture.  Perhaps more important is the music’s emotional content, completely refuting the notion that minimalist music is cold and unfeeling.”

Ben Hogwood – – 24 May 2011

“...Swinging performances from the Tonkünstler Orchestra and Chorus Sine Nomine under Järvi.”

Andrew Clark – Financial Times – 25/26 June 2011

“...The musical world of both pieces is one that the conductor Kristjan Järvi seems to understand instinctively; there’s a warmth and richness to the textures and a purposeful thrust and precision to the rhythms in his performances that are completely faithful to the essence of Reich’s music.” ***

Andrew Clements – The Guardian – 3 June 2012

D Macauley