## 1 -4 The London Symphony Orchestra - Michael Tilson Thomas, Conductor
## 5 - Steve Reich and musicians
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The Four Sections refers to the four sections of the orchestra: strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion. It also refers to the four movements of the piece: slow for strings (with woodwinds and brass), slow for percussion, moderate for woodwinds and brass (with strings), and fast for the full orchestra. The title also describes the four harmonic sections into which each of the movements is divided.
The idea for The Four Sections came from a conversation with conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, in 1986, who suggested that I write a Concerto for Orchestra. I answered that I didn't write concertos and moreover, there is really only one Concerto for Orchestra - Bartok's. Specifically, I don't really like the idea of the soloist versus the orchestra (melody and accompaniment) and prefer the interlocking of identical instruments within the whole ensemble (counterpoint). Michael explained that he did not mean soloists versus the orchestra, but rather just the interlocking of identical instruments within each orchestral section just as I had written for interlocking marimbas or violins in the past. Since this seemed like an excellent way for me to write for the orchestra while extending the ideas I have been working with for years, I immediately agreed and began work on the piece. It was completed in August 1987.
In contrast to my other works, The Four Sections begins slowly and gradually increases tempo as it goes along. The first movement begins in the first violins in three part counterpoint, joined shortly by the second violins and then violas, also divided in three parts. The cellos joined by woodwinds then bring out some of the melodies resulting from this nine voice texture. Below and around all of this, the brass, synthesizers and double basses add long held chords.
After approximately ten minutes, the second movement begins abruptly with two vibraphones, two pianos and two bass drums. Although the tempo remains slow, the bass drum and piano accents against the two interlocking vibraphones create an extremely angular and irregular percussive music in sharp contrast to the first movement. The vibraphone, piano, and bass drum parts on this recording are performed by members of my own ensemble playing as guest artists with the London Symphony Orchestra.
The third movement begins somewhat faster with a solo oboe using the triplet rhythm at the end of the preceding movement as its new eighth note. As mentioned earlier, each movement is divided into four harmonic sections and in this movement each of those sections is devoted to a different instrumental grouping. The first is for a trio of interlocking oboes. The second is centered around a trio of smoothly interlocking clarinets while the third is for a double trio of trumpets and clarinets. The tempo increases in the fourth section with a double trio of flutes and clarinets supported by two trumpets cind the entire string section.
The fourth movement begins abruptly with the vibraphones, marimbas and pianos at a fast tempo arrived at by shifting the basic meter from a dotted quarter note to a quarter note. The second violins, violas and vibraphones gradually construct a rapid repeating pattern while at the same time a high melody is built up, a note at a time, in the first violins and flutes. Suddenly, the pianos, bass drums, basses and cellos begin adding low accents (similar to the second movement) to re-interpret the metric stress. When this orchestral build-up is completed it then modulates through the four harmonies mentioned earlier, changing metrical accent and melodic shape as it goes. Finally the full ensemble cadences on F-sharp. The total duration of the piece is about 25 minutes.
The Four Sections was commissioned for The San Francisco Symphony in honor of its 75th Anniversary by Mrs. Ralph I. Dorfman. That orchestra presented the world premiere in San Francisco on October 7, 1987 conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, to whom the piece is dedicated. The European premiere was at the Frankfurt Alt Opera with Gary Bertini conducting on October 10, 1987. The New York premiere was at The Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival on November 5, 1987 with the Brooklyn Philharmonic conducted by Kent Nagano. In January 1988, Zubin Mehta conducted the piece with The New York Philharmonic and in April of the same year Laura Dean ehoreographed it for The New York City Ballet. In November 1988 with Miehael Tilson Thomas conducting, the London Symphony Orchestra presented the British premiere as part of a ten-day retrospective of Reich's music held at the South Bank Centre in London. This recording was made in London immediately following that concert.
Music for Mallet Instruments, Voices and Organ
In 1973 I began work on a piece that grew very spontaneously from one marimba pattern to many patterns played by other mallet instruments. While working out the marimba patterns, I found myself simultaneously singing long held tones.
The piece deals with two simultaneous and interrelated musical processes. The first is the building-up, beat by beat, of a duplicate of a pre-existing repeating marimba or glockenspiel pattern, with the duplicate being one or more beats out of phase with the original. This triggers the second process of augmenting or lengthening the repeating chord cadences in the women's voices and organ. The first process of rhythmic construction in the marimbas and glockenspiels has the effect of creating more fast-moving activity, which then triggers the voices and organ into doubling, quadrupling and further elongating the duration of the notes they sing and play.
When the marimbas and glockenspiels have built up to maximum activity, causing the voices and organ to elongate to maximum length and slowness, then a third woman's voice doubles some of the short melodic patterns resulting from the interlocking of the four marimba players, using her voice to precisely imitate the sound of these instruments (exactly as happens in my earlier work, Drumming).
The piece is in four sections marked off by changes in key and meter. The first is in F dorian 3/4, the second A-flat dorian 2/4, the third B-flat minor 3/4 and the fourth is D-flat 3/4. The duration is about 17 minutes