Notes and Editorial Reviews
Because Terry Riley's 1964 minimalist manifesto In C can be played by any combination of instruments and any number of instrumentalists, no two performances are alike. However, the present recording differs from previous versions in that the performing forces encompass a vocal group and a percussion ensemble consisting of eight marimba players and a vibraphonist who doubles on Bali gong. The score's 53 melodic patterns can be repeated as many times as desired in any octave transposition, at any dynamic level, in unison or in canon (the present recording times out to 55:19). This opens up a wealth of textural possibilities that particularly lend themselves to the human voice's expressive potential.
Under Paul Hillier's direction, the Ars Nova Copenhagen intones Riley's patterns using a wide palette of articulations (for this version, Riley underlaid the notes with vocal symbols derived from sacred texts). The singers sensitively employ treble and bass registers, head and chest voice techniques, and both sustained and percussive phrasings. The voices and mallet instruments interact beautifully. Even the steady "pulsing" C-natural upon which everything hangs (provided by a single marimbist) proves a shapelier, more dynamically varied presence than usual.
In short, we have a fresh, compelling, lovingly executed, and gorgeously engineered interpretation that all In C fans should hear. Ars Nova provides convenient access bands at 10-minute intervals, plus booklet notes by Paul Hillier that give insight into the genesis of and philosophy behind this project.
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
In C by Terry Riley
Ars Nova Copenhagen,
Percurama Percussion Ensemble
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1964; USA
Date of Recording: 01/17/2005
Venue: Focus Recording, Copenhagen, Denmark
Length: 55 Minutes 19 Secs.
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