“Steve Reich’s 1976 masterpiece, one of the landmarks of 20th-century music, has already acquired its own enduring performing tradition. Music for 18 Musicians may have started out as the exclusive preserve of Reich’s own ensemble, but more and more groups now play it, and at least four fine versions of the hour-long work are available on disc. The latest, from the New York-based Ensemble Signal, is certainly one of the best so far. Signal’s director, Brad Lubman, has been one of Reich’s regular collaborators for many years (he conducted the premiere of Reich’s video opera Three Tales, for instance), and this performance with a group of young musicians – most of whom, as the sleeve note points out, would not have been born when the piece was first performed – has the perfect combination of tightly disciplined ensemble playing and creative fantasy. There’s tremendous, unstoppable energy in this performance, an urgent edge to its textures and a surging power to its thrilling climaxes, that make the greatness of the music unmistakable.
– Andrew Clements – The Guardian – 5 stars
“Even if more recordings are released next year to celebrate the 40th anniversary of this work, Steve Reich’s instant classic, none will likely be more sensational than this. Taped at Empac in Troy, N.Y., in 2011, the augmented players of the Ensemble Signal joyously meld rhythmic precision and transparency of sound with a startling ability to shade colors. It’s like hearing a ritual unfold and made radical once more.”
—New York Times
“One could hardly wish for more assured, sensitive guides to Steve Reich’s masterpiece.”
The most heartening thing about this new recording of Steve Reich’s 1976 minimalist masterpiece may be the simple fact of its existence. Here is a composition that for a long time was the sole province of its creator, who performed it with his own ensemble. Now it’s moving with increasing determination into the realm of accepted standard repertoire, where — just like Beethoven’s Fifth — everyone wants to weigh in with their own version. And that in turn means that each interpretation is going to have its own constellation of emphases and oversights, strengths and weaknesses. What the performance by Brad Lubman and the Ensemble Signal has going for it is a rhythmic profile that is both swift and loose — the tempos have a noticeable forward push, and yet the ensemble playing is so masterful that it all sounds effortlessly graceful.
—San Francisco Chronicle
Awarded Diapason d’Or in June 2015
– Diapason Magazine