Jeff Meshel's World

086: ‘Different Trains’, Steve Reich (Kronos Quartet)

086: ‘Different Trains’, Steve Reich (Kronos Quartet)

SoTW takes a look at Minimalism and composer Steve Reich’s ‘Different Trains’, a three-movement piece for string quartet and tape (1988).
Reich uses recorded spoken phrases of his governess, a retired Pullman porter, and various Holocaust survivors interlaid with the astounding Kronos Quartet to contrast his childhood memories of train journeys between New York and California in 1939–1941 (he traveled between his separated parents) with the very different trains being used to transport contemporaneous European children to their deaths under Nazi rule.
This is difficult, challenging music, but is said to have “earned Reich a place among the great composers of the 20th century”.

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