I heard Kronos Quartet perform Steve Reich’s WTC 9/11 (2010) earlier this year at Carnegie Hall. For three string quartets (two were overdubbed in this live performance) and recorded voices taken from phone calls by first responders on September 11, 2001, as well as interviews with New Yorkers some years later, it doesn’t serve as a nostalgic remembrance. Rather, it’s a dramatic whirlwind of a piece, at times bracing and overwhelming.
For those who’ve tired of the languid sentimentality and unfortunate jingoism that has too often been attached to 9/11 by those who’ve been witnesses from a distance, Reich’s response is an affecting tribute, both to those lost and to the New Yorkers left behind. I’m glad that its recording will see release near the 10 year anniversary of September 11, 2001.
The release also include So Percussion performing Reich 2009 Mallet Quartet and Reich and Musicians performing Dance Patterns (2002).
Thanks to Nonesuch for letting us debut the CD’s artwork.
I mentioned the following on the Sequenza 21 homepage:
One thing I’d point out is that, in the pop world, artwork is routinely debuted on a website prior to a CD’s release. Nonesuch is a label that releases both classical and pop CDs. So, this isn’t that unusual a practice for them.
They asked Sequenza 21 to release the artwork instead of, say, Pitchfork or Stereogum, because our readership is more likely to be interested in a new Steve Reich CD than the average Pitchfork reader.
Now, whether the art is “in good taste” or not is certainly up to debate and I’m glad we’re discussing that here in the comments. My one suggestion: if you hear the piece, which is very disturbing and visceral, you might view the cover differently. Does the cover make me uncomfortable? Yes. But then, so does Reich’s piece.
So do Different Trains and Come Out. Relevant artwork, topical artwork, is risky; sometimes it makes us uncomfortable. But like Reich’s aforementioned earlier works, I think that WTC 9/11 has something meaningful to say.