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****Excellent ***Good **Fair *Poor : COMPACT DISCS

January 12, 1988|JOHN HENKEN

"Drumming" and "Early Works." Steve Reich and Musicians. Nonesuch. The minimalist epic "Drumming" benefits from a new digital recording of a tight, taut performance and the four "Early Works" document the development of Reich's techniques and concepts. But there is a sense of ritual and shared experience in live performances of Reich's music that seldom comes across on these discs. The "Early Works" include new recordings of "Clapping Music"--so often a sustained joyous spark in concert, but particularly disappointing here--a tense, vigorous "Piano Phase" and two tape experiments with looped spoken phrases, "It's Gonna Rain" and "Come Out." For the study of Reich's music, these are valuable sources; for the experience of it, they are much less satisfactory. **

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