Named on Best of 2005 Classical CDs by the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, New York Newsday, BBC Radio 3 CD Review, San Jose Mercury News and Amazon,com, ‘You Are (Variations)’ recorded by the Los Angeles Master chorale conducted by Grant Gershon for Nonesuch has also received exceptionally positive international press and web coverage. Some samples:
“Mozart’s 250th birthday and Steve Reich’s 70th birthday will take up a lot of 2006’s musical oxygen, and welcome they are to it.
As for Reich, turn to “You Are (Variations),” a modern masterpiece by a composer with a downright Mozartean command of Minimalism. He wrote the piece in 2004 for the Los Angeles Master Chorale, which has recorded it for Nonesuch. It begins with a text by a Jewish mystic — “You are wherever your thoughts are” — which, like this exciting music, cuts through the holiday season hooey like a knife through soft butter.”
Los Angeles Times Dec. 8, 2005
”Say little and do much,” the final Hebrew text of the four-part ”You Are (Variations)” advises. It could be an epigram for Steve Reich, who, with this work, achieved a particularly felicitous synthesis. All that was lacking, once again, was the Pulitzer Prize.
New York Times Dec. 16, 2005
“The aphoristic nature of the texts and their accompanying musical ideas give the work its power. The performance positively glitters…Cello Counterpoint, which rounds off the disc sounds very often as though there were one gigantic humming, strumming instrument. There’s no doubt that this is a work of real substance.”
Gramophone – UK, October 2005
In terms of its style, Steve Reich’s You Are (Variations) (Nonesuch 7559 79891-2 ) (5 stars) represents both recollection and rejuvenation. There are echoes of his Minimalist phase, of Sextet’s dense harmonies, Tehillim’s high-flying vocal lines, the word based drama of Different Trains and the world of early music. Reich’s textual prompts were Wittgenstein and Jewish religious sources, his responses gritty, urgent, organic, wildly dancing – and strangely beautiful. The forces called for – here, members of the Los Angeles Master Chorale under Grant Gershon – include voices, woodwinds, pianos and marimbas. It’s the sort of music Reich does best, intimate yet outgoing, and surely his most compelling piece since Different Trains.
The Independent – UK, September 27, 2005
You Are (Variations), his newest major work and the centrepiece of his latest CD on Nonesuch, is an austere and beautiful setting of four short statements, three from Hebrew texts and one from the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. The rhythm of the words is reflected in the whole structure of the piece, whose canonic repetitions of the texts is a form of active meditation on what they mean and also how they feel as verbal or ritual actions.
The Globe and Mail – Canada- October 29, 2005
You Are (Variations) is fascinating, the textures unique and fresh, the experience haunting and captivating… This is undoubtedly some of Reich’s finest work in years.
You Are is prime Reich, using choral and orchestral elements similarly to Tehillim and The Desert Music, but as rhythmically driven as anything he’s done in years….The closing track, Cello Counterpoint, featuring cellist Maya Beiser (Bang On a Can) overdubbed eight times to create a surprisingly dense string ensemble. Its marked accents and interweaving melodies sound great all performed by one person…I read someone call him the “greatest living American composer,” and though any all encompassing title is debatable, you’d be hard pressed to find a more fitting example of individualism and stubborn will so often identified with this place.
Pitchfork.com – 1/10/06