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From quartets to octets now, in a manner of speaking. My first exposure to Steve Reich’s music for multiple instruments of the same family was Vermont Counterpoint for solo flute and an ensemble of ten flutes, or pre-recorded tracks of the piccolos, flutes and alto flutes as performed by the soloist, this latter being the case in the 1982 Ransom Wilson EMI release. In 2003 Reich composed Cello Counterpoint for eight cellos on a joint commission for Maya Beiser (who will appear later on in the column). On the recent New Focus Recordings release 8-Track (FCR373 newfocusrecordings.com) we are presented with Ashley Bathgate’s layered realization of the work, along with new compositions in the same format by Canadian/Icelandic composer Fjóla Evans and Americans Emily Cooley and Alex Weiser. Evans’ Augun was inspired by a traditional Icelandic song and features overlapping motives to create shimmering, undulating textures. Cooley tells us that composing Assemble was like “assembling a sort of puzzle;” only at the end do the pieces come together in one voice. Weiser’s Shimmer unfolds through gradual and dramatic changes, in a waxing and waning of the canonic relationship between each cello and the soloist. This is the closest in minimalist spirit to Reich’s original which concludes this inspired disc. Bathgate’s technical control and musicality shine through each of these contrasting works within a common context, resulting in a mesmerizing recording. My only concern is that the two most similar sounding works, Weiser’s and Reich’s, are placed side by side. I would have preferred the disc to begin with Cello Counterpoint thus presenting a context for the project.