Unlike Steve Reich's writing for his own ensemble, his music for traditional instruments looks back to classical forms: The orchestral Four Sections, for example, resembles a four-movement symphony, and the Triple Quartet, recorded here, has the structure and feeling of a Baroque concerto. Cast in the conventional fast-slow-fast format, the work, which is scored for three string quartets, can be heard as an homage to Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3. The Kronos Quartet (playing all 12 parts through the magic of overdubbing) give an invigorating performance, slashing through the syncopated rhythms, yet finding a lyrical element, even in the spikiest passages.
The rest of the disc revisits Reich's earlier compositions: Dominic Frasca updates the groundbreaking Violin Phase (1967) in a performance on electric guitar. Music for Large Ensemble (1977-79) is heard in a new arrangement by two avant-garde groups -- Alarm Will Sound and the Ossia Ensemble. The arrangement, which substitutes a pair of violins in place of saxophones and voices, sounds warmer yet maintains its essential energy. And finally, Vermont Counterpoint (1981), originally composed for flutes, is realized with breathtaking precision in an adaptation for MIDI marimbas. Reich fans, rejoice!