Third Coast Percussion | International House, University of Chicago | Classical | Chicago Reader

Third Coast Percussion All Ages Recommended Soundboard Image

When: Fri., Feb. 5, 7:30 p.m. 2016

In his thoughtful liner notes for Third Coast Percussion’s excellent new album Steve Reich (due from Cedille on February 12), 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. The work expresses many of Reich’s recurring ideas. Short figures for tuned percussion (marimba, vibraphone, crotales) mesh with cyclical piano and synth phrases in shifting and hypnotic patterns, while bows create complementary long tones as they’re played on bars of mallet percussion instruments. The music is constantly evolving, with a new idea appearing and pushing the previous one out—though the macro view shows more of an arcing form, as with many of his works. Tonight’s program features Sextet (with both Friend and Hagen), the Chicago premiere of a newly commissioned work from Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy called Surface Tension, and Belgian composer Thierry De Mey’s entertaining “Table Music.”

Peter Margasak

Price: $21-$26, $6 students, $1 children

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