Entertainment Music

Evaluate: After Hovering, Steve Reich Brings Again the Pulse

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Like its predecessor, “Jacob’s Ladder” units biblical textual content within the unique Hebrew — on this case, the verse from Genesis wherein Jacob desires of a ladder to heaven, angels ascending and descending on it. However Reich means for the consonants to be smoothed, virtually blurred, and on Thursday the 4 singers of Synergy Vocals managed the tough process of sounding concurrently exact and misty, with an vintage nasal tang within the two male voices and funky freshness within the girls.

Swaths of the piece are simply instrumental, and the Philharmonic musicians approached the entire thing with forthright gusto. Presumably Reich noticed rehearsals and sanctioned the efficiency type, however the string gamers used an quantity of vibrato that typically jarred with the straighter tone of the singers and different devices; this premiere wasn’t ideally clear.

The piece just isn’t as plainly poignant as “Traveler’s Prayer”; the musical and emotional panorama of “Jacob’s Ladder” is extra changeable, even flickering. Reich flashes — with out lingering — on jeweled moments, and at one memorable level, briefly brightening harmonies within the strings are introduced again to somber earth by just some darkish piano notes.

But nothing is overstated; even the dissonances on this delicate work are softly luminous. Energetic whereas meditative, “Jacob’s Ladder” doesn’t really feel insubstantial, nevertheless it does really feel gentle, swish, refreshing. Twenty minutes handed like a tune.

Programming the piece alongside Beethoven’s “Emperor” Piano Concerto and Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony appeared much less about drawing musical comparisons than about proving how simply Reich matches in with the classics. New works are typically doomed by juxtaposition with beloved requirements, however “Jacob’s Ladder” performs serenely but confidently with the massive boys.

The pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, returning to the Philharmonic for the primary time since 2018, did the primary motion of the Beethoven concerto with lucid authority and a few very good textures, like downward runs that really sounded as in the event that they had been sliding. His sluggish motion had poetry with out indulgence, and the witty, visionary transition from that Adagio to the vigorous Rondo finale had an thrilling sense of improvisation.