To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Kronos’ premiere of composer Steve Reich’s Different Trains at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, Nonesuch Records has reissued Reich’s 1989 Different Trains/Electric Counterpoint album on vinyl. Featuring definitive performances of the two works by Kronos and Pat Metheny respectively, the LP was recently highlighted by Pitchfork on their “200 Best Albums of the 1980s” list. Reich won the Recording Academy’s Grammy Award for Best Classical Contemporary Composition in 1989 for Kronos’ recording of Different Trains. Purchase or stream the album >
Regarding Different Trains, Reich wrote: “The idea for the piece came from my childhood. When I was one year old my parents separated. My mother moved to Los Angeles and my father stayed in New York. Since they arranged divided custody, I travelled back and forth by train frequently between New York and Los Angeles from 1939 to 1942 accompanied by my governess. While the trips were exciting and romantic at the time I now look back and think that, if I had been in Europe during this period, as a Jew I would have had to ride very different trains.” Learn more about the work for string quartet and tape in the video below.
David Harrington, artistic director, founder and violinist of Kronos Quartet, recalls, “When bits of Different Trains began to arrive in the mail, I knew immediately that something special was developing. Because Different Trains is performed in concert by a live quartet with three additional quartets on tape, we had to record Different Trains before we could ever play it in performance. Every other piece that we had recorded up until then we had performed and practiced for a long time. Different Trains was different. And everything about Different Trains – its boldness, its subject matter, its sound requirements – has pushed Kronos and our music into many new directions.
“We thank Steve for writing this masterpiece for Kronos, which has altered our work forever and has helped to reinvigorate our entire musical form. To my ears, Different Trains sounds as fresh, disturbing, and personal as it did when it was written. Steve opened a huge door with Different Trains, unlocking many rooms full of possibilities. What an astonishing accomplishment.”