Thursday, March 04, 2010

Steve Smith on ECM

"Spend enough time pondering ECM, a revered German classical and jazz label celebrating its 40th anniversary, and you are tempted to ascribe mystical powers of foresight and intuition to its founder, Manfred Eicher. … When Deutsche Grammophon declined to release a seminal recording of Steve Reich’s 'Music for 18 Musicians' that Mr. Eicher had produced, he released it on ECM and followed it with two more LPs of Mr. Reich’s music. In 1981 Mr. Eicher began a lasting collaboration with the singer, composer and choreographer Meredith Monk. A chance encounter provided impetus for the next step. 'On the radio I picked up some music I’d never heard of and left the autobahn to get better reception,' Mr. Eicher said. 'A year later I found out this was Arvo Pärt. I didn’t know what that music was, and it was fascinating. I had to search for it.' Mr. Eicher was so moved by what he heard that he went to meet Mr. Pärt in Austria and came away determined to make a record. … Mr. Eicher named the first entry of his ECM New Series after one of the Pärt compositions it included, 'Tabula Rasa'" ("40 Years Old, a Musical House Without Walls," New York Times, 12/27/09).


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