Staff Picks: American Minimalism

Terry Riley ~ In C

You can’t make a list of American Composers without bringing up Minimalism. It is one of the most important American contributions to the Classical Music world and remains strong until this day. Terry Riley’s “In C” is often credited as being the spark the ignited the Minimalism. This CD is was recorded on the 25th anniversary of the works premier and is perfectly blended together into a slowly evolving circle of noise and pulse.

CD 1821


Steve Reich ~ Tehillim

Speaking of pulse, there is Steve Reich. Another one of the great minimalist composers, Reich’s earlier works revolved around creating pulse and changing note emphasis through a process called phase. Written in the 1981, Tehillim is Reich’s first foray into his Jewish heritage, providing a setting for various psalms. Its a great piece worth listening to as it echoes both his older instrumental work as well as his less esoteric contemporary works.

CD 6043


Philip Glass ~ Solo Piano

I’ve recommended plenty of Phillip Glass in previous posts. However, most of those are large scale works like operas. This is a nice change of pace, its simply Glass playing his own works on a piano. Its gloriously unassuming, avoiding massive ensembles and bizarre instrumentation its minimalism in its most minimalistic.

CD 9685


Julia Wolfe ~ Dark Full Ride

I have mentioned this in a previous post, but its just too good. What could be better than 9 bagpipes sliding in between pitches? That’s right, nothing.

CD 9549


John Adams ~ Harmonium; The Klinghoffer Choruses

This is the work that brought Adams into the spotlight. It was premiered by the San Fransisco Symphony under Edo de Waart during Davies Hall’s inaugural season and Adam’s first performance with a major orchestra. Set to poetry by John Donne and Emily Dickinson, Harmonium is a great example of a large scale, expansive sounding minimalist work. The final movement, a setting of Dickenson’s “Wild Nights” provides this sublime energy born out of his customary flares in the woodwinds while being propelled forward by energetic brass and choral lines.

CD 9834