Notes and Editorial Reviews
Terry Riley's In C (1964), the Magna Carta of Minimalism, turns 45 in 2009, and what better way to celebrate than for Sony/BMG to remaster the work's 1968 premiere recording from the original tape? In C comprises 53 melodic patterns that can be played or sung in sequence by any number of singers or instruments. The performers determine how many times they repeat a pattern before proceeding to the next. One can even drop out and listen, resuming later. The patterns can be played in unison or in canonic alignment at any dynamic level. Most performances lock in to a pulsing C-natural, usually provided by a pianist or a mallet percussionist.
It goes without saying that every performance is unique, and no two recordings offer
exactly the same piece. For example, Ictus and the Bang On A Can All Stars turn out suavely blended, slickly contoured renditions, while Riley's 1990 25th-anniversary performance on New Albion is altogether grittier and harder hitting. The grit factor emerges with even more urgency and excitement in this 1968 version, with its predominant reeds and brass--and Riley's soprano saxophone the driving force. About halfway through its 41-minute trajectory, the pulse quickens as the phrases grow more rhythmically elaborate, yet somehow the gathering momentum never grows frantic nor spins toward the edge of control.
And with the CD medium's extended-play capacity, we're thankfully spared that ungodly electronic whooshing insert that demarcated the original LP side breaks. Sony/BMG's new transfer conveys a crisper, more vivid impact than the label's 1988 CD edition. A seminal release and a fun listen rolled into one!
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
In C by Terry Riley
SUNY Buffalo Center for Creative/Performing Arts
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1964; USA
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