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Steve Reich: Phase to Face Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: MPEG-2
  • Resolution: 1080i/60
  • Audio Codec: PCM 2.0
  • Subtitles: English, French, German
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1
  • Studio: Ideale Audience
  • Blu-ray Release Date: October 25 , 2011
  • List Price: $39.99

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B005LVEFYA[/amazon-product]

[amazon-product]B005LVEFYA[/amazon-product]

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Steve Reich: Phase to Face -

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Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4/5]


It is startling to consider that “modernist” composer, Steve Reich has just turned 75 years old. This film on his career also includes several of his best known pieces: It’s Gonna Rain, Piano Phase, Drumming, Tehilim, Different Trains, and The Cave. When Reich began composing, the concept of “minimalism,” did not exist. Ultimately, a whole school has developed with the compositions of Philip Glass, John Adams, Terry Riley, and of course Reich, that use repeated chords and sequences to build an emotional experience. Since Reich began as a drummer, rhythm plays a major role in most of his works. Reich’s music has evolved over the past half century from 12-tone, electronic, rock-influenced, jazz, and, eventually, a unique musical voice. This 2009 documentary is really a tour diary covering stops at Le Havre, Rome, Tokyo, New York, Manchester, over an 18 month period. It also includes Reich’s receipt of the Pulitzer Prize for music in 2009.

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

The film alternates a basic “sit down” interview with Reich with performances of his compositions. In the documentary spirit, you get a lot of Reich without the intrusion of cameras in the face or pesky interviewers. Picture quality varies considerably, depending on venue, but this adds to the authenticity of the cinematic experience. The concert performances and rehearsals contain some motion artifact but not objectionably so.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

The soundtrack is unabashed LPCM 2.0, but it is very clear and gives good account of both the dialogue and particularly the music. As most viewers with processors will give it some kind of matrix treatment, the production decision to go with this sound format will not be an issue.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3.5/5]

At last, supplements that illuminate and explain.  There are two featurettes, the first of which is Reich addressing a post-peformance Tokyo audience about his music. The second is Reich’s unique history of modern music. Both are fascinating and well worth the watch.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

It is a rare treat to be able to watch a living composer at work and to experience the evolution of his work.  For those unfamiliar with one of America’s greatest composers of the last half of the 20th century, this is a film that should not be missed. Granted the visual quality is uneven and the sound, far from state of the art, these issue do not detract from the final product.  Since Reich is visual as well as aural composer, film representations of his pieces are the best way to get the total experience. The balance between interview and performance is just right, and the nearly one hour film is over before you know it.  Fortunately, it holds up quite well on repeat viewings.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B005LVEFYA[/amazon-product]

[amazon-product]B005LVEFYA[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Steve Reich: Phase to Face -

Purchase Steve Reich: Phase to Face on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]

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