Nico Muhly on Steve Reich’s Duet for two solo violins and string orchestra
Nico composed Trombone Phrases for a Sound World project supporting freelance musicians during the Covid lockdowns. It features on the album Reflections alongside pieces by Dame Evelyn Glennie, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Gavin Bryars, Sally Beamish and others.
I love this Steve Reich miniature. It’s gentle, perfectly constructed, generous, and simple. As with much of his music, it is simultaneously fast and slow, and there is a sense of a pulse coming in and out of focus. The inevitability of the ensemble chords is chastened by a sense of caprice in the two solo parts. I always find myself simultaneously soothed and intrigued by this piece no matter how many times I listen to it.
Nico Muhly (b.1981), is an American composer who writes orchestral music, works for the stage, chamber music and sacred music. He’s received commissions from The Metropolitan Opera: Two Boys (2011), and Marnie (2018); Carnegie Hall, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Australian Chamber Orchestra, the Tallis Scholars, and King’s College, Cambridge. An avid collaborator, he has worked with choreographers Benjamin Millepied, Justin Peck and Kyle Abraham; artists Sufjan Stevens, The National, Teitur, Anohni, James Blake and Paul Simon. Recordings of his works have been released by Decca and Nonesuch, and he is part of the artist-run record label Bedroom Community.
…and finally, we asked,
“If someone didn’t know the music of Nico Muhly, which piece would you like them to listen to?”
If somebody didn’t know my work, an alright place to start might be with a little piano solo piece “Move” or this little parody motet “Small Raine”. I’m always disappointed that no one piece of mine really sums all of it up; I should figure that one at some point.