Friday, 24 February 2017

Steve Reich's Different Trains with Video at BBVA Foundation

It's been three years since I attended the concert at the Teatro Real (Madrid's Royal Theatre, the main opera venue here) of music by Steve Reich, to coincide with the BBVA Foundation's "Frontiers of Knowledge" prize-giving event. Reich was one of the recipients and the concert brought together a number of groups of the younger generation who are performing his work today.

So, I was pleased to discover that the same BBVA Foundation has staged a different kind of performance of Reich's work, namely "Different Trains." This time the Kronos Quartet recording is accompanied by a video installation by Spanish video artist Beatriz Caravaggio (website for the Different Trains installation). I was surprised at the way the careful selection of film footage from the periods covered by the piece really contributed to my understanding of the composer's intention. The material is projected onto three screens, with relatively unintrusive captions making the speech more intelligible.

Reading again the sleeve notes from the Kronos Quartet CD (from back in the late 1980s), Reich says "The piece thus represents both a documentary and musical reality, and begins a new musical direction. It is this direction that I expect will lead to a new kind of documentary music video theater in the not too distant future."

The installation is on at the palatial premises of the BBVA Foundation on the Paseo de la Castellana, just up from the Plaza de Cibeles, until 10th March. Free entry.

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