This record is the first “opera omnia” for electric guitar by the american composer Steve Reich ever made. The author of this stylistic synthesis is the Japanise guitarist Yasushi Takemura, who played three scores: “Music for Pieces of Wood”, “Nagoya Guitars” and the three movements of “Electric Counterpoint”.
It’s true that about these three songs only “Electric Counterpoint” was specially written by Reich for Pat Metheny’s guitar, but the inherent qualities in the music of the most famous living American composer, or rather, the characteristics of the musical processes adopted by Reich , often allow an interesting transposition to other instruments, such as the electric guitar.
Music for Pieces of Wood, is a fine example of how something of interest can be made with only basic elements, it’slistening to a kaleidoscope: a pattern is established, then it shifts as with the click of the kaleidoscope. There are 58 shifts of pattern within a general 10 minute time frame. Three general sections comprise the overall form. Each section employs an additive progession to build density and is linked to the neighboring section by the underlying quarter note laid down by the first clave player. Takemura plays it using a “mute” technique that makes a connection between hi guitar and the percussions used in the original score.
Steve Reich wrote the work “Nagoya Marimbas” in response to a commission from the Nagoya College of Music in Japan. When fellow composer Aaron Jay Kernis first heard that work, he noted to his friend David Tannenbaum that the work might be suited to a guitar transcription. Tannenbaum agreed, and completed the transcription while consulting with Reich. “Nagoya Guitars” is a thoroughly minimalist work: it begins with a darting, mostly descending theme in the bass, and, after much chordal churning and unceasing movement, eventually ends up on a similar but ascending theme in a much higher register. All of the best features of Reich’s minimalism are here: tension arises from repetition, the unstoppable movement gives the piece momentum, and the development of the theme, handled gradually, seems inevitable and right as one listens. Those who enjoy minimalist works will find this work to be right up their alley. Takemura adds something else: a more “funky” version, more funky and fun, with his electric guitar adding more moviments.
The cd is closed by the three movimets of Electric Counterpoint, probably the most love contemporary pieces for electric guitar ever composed and played. Takemura plays very well and I have to say that I like the energy he puts into his music and his guitar. Maybe, expecially Nagoya Guitars, hi interpretations could not be considered as pefectly accademic versions, but I don’t think this is really important. With his funkness and his fluidity Takemura adds more fun and new ideas to Reich’s guitar music. Recommended it.