By the time the members of this impressive percussion ensemble joined forces in 2005, the composer Steve Reich was already a grandfather figure in the American new-music scene. So the percussionist Robert Dillon writes in the liner notes to this beguiling CD, his group’s responsibility is “not to,document this repertoire – it no longer needs basic preservation – but rather to put our stamp on it.” It’s above all a sensual approach to tone color that comes through in Third Coast’s take on classic works, whether it’s the relaxed warmth of the Mallet Quartet or the glistening brightness of “Music for Pieces of Wood”. Joined by the pianists David Friend and Oliver Hagen, the ensemble also finds full-blooded drama in the Sextet, which contains within its five movements a world of expressions from impish charm to almost oppressive darkness.
New York Times
In his thoughtful liner notes for Third Coast Percussion’s excellent new album Steve Reich, member Robert Dillon reminds us that it wasn’t long ago that percussion ensembles were outcasts, as few composers took much interest in that section of the orchestra. Things changed a lot because of John Cage, but no one unleashed the possibilities as much and as consistently as Steve Reich, who Dillon says was a key influence for all of Third Coast’s members. The new album surveys the composer’s singular work for percussion over a four-decade span, beginning with 1973’s “Music for Pieces of Wood.” The focal point is the 1985 masterpiece Sextet, performed with the help of pianists David Friend and Oliver Hagen. It’s a work TCP have played for years, and their adoration and familiarity with it are palpable in the crisp precision and pulsing energy of their latest performance.
In these performances there is a buoyancy to the perpetually pulsating rhythms in the Mallet Quartet and (above all) the lengthy Sextet that somehow conveys that joy in movement that seems to be what this music is all about. Those gently but inexorably shifting rhythmic and harmonic patterns spring vividly to life
Album of the Week – Q2 Music, WQXR, New York