Nonesuch Records releases the first recording of Steve Reich’s Reich / Richter, performed by Ensemble intercontemporain and conducted by George Jackson. The composition was originally written to be performed with German visual artist Gerhard Richter and Corinna Belz’s film Moving Picture (946-3).
Reich describes Richter’s book Patterns, which served as source material for the film: “It starts with one of his abstract paintings from the ’90s. He scanned a photo of the painting into a computer and then cut the scan in half and took each half, cut that in half and two of the four quarters he reversed into mirror images. He then repeated this process of ‘divide, mirror, repeat’ from half to quarter, eighth, sixteenth, thirty-second, all the way up to 4096th. The net effect is to go from an abstract painting to a series of gradually smaller anthropomorphic‘creatures’ (since the mirroring produces bilateral symmetry) to still smaller very fine stripes.
“Belz described the film in terms of ‘pixels’. It begins with two-‘pixel’ stripes and the music begins with a two-sixteenth note oscillating pattern. When the film moves to four ‘pixels’, the music moves to a four-sixteenth note pattern, then to eight, and sixteen,” the composer continues. “After that, I began introducing longer note values – initially eighth notes, and later to quarter notes. By the middle of the film, when the images move from 512 to 1064 pixels, the music really slows to dotted half notes. Finally, as the ‘pixel’ count begins to diminish, the music moves back into more rapid eighths and then ending with the most intense rapid sixteenth movement.”