by Rob Barnett
… along comes this disc in Reich’s eightieth birthday year with four works scattered across four decades. It’s an encouraging chance to catch up. All the usual attractions are on show. The most succulent of these is Mallet Quartet proving that minimalism can offer juice as well as a mind-tingling rhythmic lucidity. There are surprises too – even disappointments although not in the execution by these six players – including two pianists in Sextet. The gloomy metallic thudding bass-emphatic realms of the central three movements of Sextet are not where I would start anyone new to Reich; for that the large-scale works Desert Music and Variations should not be missed. The outer movements (of five) of Sextet offer contrasting recompense with some ruthless piano figuration alongside the marimbas and vibraphones. Nagoya Marimbas returns us to that open oxygen-rich ringing percussion sound. Here – and in the drier five-movement Music for Pieces of Wood – we are again captivated by Third Coast Percussion’s attentive ears, wrists and musculature. That essential dynamic tickle, thud and rhythmic absorption is there and the audio-engineers deserve as much praise as the four musicians of Third Coast Percussion and the two pianists in Sextet: David Friend and Oliver Hagen.