Album: Steve Reich, Daniel Variations (Nonesuch)

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The Independent Culture

Propelled by darting vibes and dancing violins, Steve Reich’s four-movement memorial to the murdered American journalist Daniel Pearl interpolates apocalyptic dreams from the “Book of Daniel” with Pearl’s own words. Old Testament terror jars against the simplicity of what Pearl said to a friend when asked if he believed in an afterlife: “I don’t know... But I sure hope Gabriel likes my music.” It’s a powerful,thoughtful, loving piece but the voices of the Los Angeles Master Chorale are weak. Far superior is the London Sinfonietta’s performance: a work of classically Reichian dazzled ecstasy.