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In C


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Audio CD, January 23, 1992
$14.34
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listen  1. In C28:35Album Only
listen  2. Zen (Ch'an) of Water15:58Album Only
listen  3. Music of a Thousand Springs23:47Album Only

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Product Details

  • Performer: Shanghai Film Orchestra
  • Orchestra: Terry Riley
  • Composer: David Mingyue Liang
  • Audio CD (January 23, 1992)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Celestial Harmonies
  • ASIN: B0000007WF
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #433,103 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Terry Riley's In C, one of the most influential compositions of the past quarter century, has been played by almost every conceivable combination of instruments; however, the Shanghai Film Orchestra's version ranks as one of the most exciting and exotic interpretations. It marks the 25th anniversary of the piece, and represents the first time a Western new music piece has been recorded in China. In C is a rhythmic, energetic work, but it also echoes the mystical, embroidered music of the Near East and India. By staying in or around the key of C, this 1964 work creates a model sound that can be seen as a forerunner of today's minimalist and world music styles.

The Shanghai Film Orchestra plays this contemporary Western work on traditional Chinese instruments. The tuning is different, and the tone colors of the ancient Chinese bells and strings lend a new vibrancy to the piece. The construction of this version is equally striking. Instead of following the score straight through, earlier parts are brought back and woven into a tapestry of sound even more mesmerizing than Riley's original recording.

The talented Chinese-American composer, David Mingyue Liang, contributes two works that extend the orchestra's range to include the ethereal sounds of bowed vibes and the haunting resonance of China's only complete set of mangluo gongs. This remarkable recording, the result of a cultural openness in China, proves that the East and West have much to say to each other.

Amazon.com

There is no doubt about composer Terry Riley's position in the history of 20th-century music. When his watershed composition In C was recorded in 1964, very little of its ilk was available. In C is a pulsating exploration of musical tones, all of them surrounding a riveting repetition of a C note on the piano. To simplify the event, its debut was the formal birth of minimalism. While Riley's original CBS recording has strong charm, and bragging rights as first-on-the-block, one measure of a piece's greatness is its translatability. To this end, Celestial Harmonies presents the Shanghai Film Orchestra on traditional Chinese instruments playing the piece. Percussive, lilting, and thick with energy, Shanghai is monumentally faithful to Riley's designs, loping and looping the segments brilliantly and utilizing the Chinese instruments' pitches to the advantage of the composition. --Andrew Bartlett

Customer Reviews

This is not music I'd listen to every week, but still I highly recommend it.
T. Fisher
I own an interesting one by the Shanghai Film Orchestra, which includes a number of Chinese instruments which create a uniquely shimmering texture.
Bruce Hodges
I only wish Mr. Riley would make a much longer recording, AT LEAST two hours long.
Lee

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By DAC Crowell on April 3, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Ting, ting, ting, ting, ting, ting, ting, ting...that's how this starts, with a drumming pulse on the top Cs on a piano. Then gradually, a whole tapestry of interlocking sounds starts to unfold, and you're slowly getting immersed in 'In C'. You don't really listen to this piece; the effect is much more like that aforementioned 'immersion', as the very gradual shifting of the patterns is more like organic growth, instead of the architectural jumps and skips found in Philip Glass or Steve Reich's works. How this is accomplished is by the use of a very selective variant on chance processes; since performers aren't given direct instructions on when to change from one ostinato to the next, this slow, 'oozing' shifting occurs, and it's quite fascinating (as opposed to what one reviewer here seems to think). It's certainly not an easy work to wrap your head around, unlike Glass, etc, but both the music and the ideas behind it are most rewarding. A critical work.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Lee on December 29, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Minimalism has produced five masterpieces: Philip Glass' "Music in Twelve Parts" and "Einstein on the Beach," La Monte Young's "The Well-Tuned Piano" (good luck finding that one!), Steve Reich's "Music for 18 Musicians," and Terry Riley's "In C." Although there are several recordings of "In C", each with a different orchestration, this one is probably still the best recording after all is said and done. (I only wish Mr. Riley would make a much longer recording, AT LEAST two hours long.)
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Martin R. Lash on September 21, 2009
Format: Audio CD
This is one of the works and recodings that put minimalism on the map. Riley's "In C" has been called the "The Rite of Spring" of our time. This first recording led the way to the many other versions that appeared but this is the first and the best (The more recent Innova CD is worth hearing). Fans of minimalism either have the original CBS recording or should add this reisssue to their collection. A must-have.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 29, 1999
Format: Audio CD
This is one of the first of the "minimalist" movement. Though it is hard to "HEAR" It is wonderful to "LISTEN" to. Every fan of the minimalist movement should atleast listen to this recording. I would say this recording is "essential". Highly recomended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By T. Fisher TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 21, 2011
Format: Audio CD
This recording has some incredible historical significance to it. Forget about minimalism -- I first started wondering about Terry Riley's "In C" because Pete Townshend of The Who said it was the inspiration for his synthesizer riff on the classic rock anthem "Baba O'Riley". It was only later that I started to understand things like Philip Glass or Steve Reich and to realize that Terry Riley fit into that tradition as well, and how significant it really was that "In C" is recognized by many as either the first or one of the first minimalist compositions.

Listening to the piece on this recording -- the first ever made of "In C" and featuring Terry Riley himself on saxophone -- I could definitely hear the connection to music in the more popular minimalist vein. There are brief sections -- perhaps no more than half a minute or so at a stretch -- where I felt the music could actually have been written by Philip Glass if it weren't for the more rambunctious instrumentation. Of course, after a while something uncontrolled breaks out in the structured chaos of this piece that reminds you firmly that this is something else, something less refined and domesticated than mainstream minimalism.

The instrumentation really is something. I listened to the piece before reading about it, and I really thought there must be a gamelan in there, but sadly there is not. In addition to a piano pulse, the instruments are saxophone, oboe, bassoon, trumpet, clarinet, flute, viola, trombone, vibraphone, marimbaphone. But there is definitely a gamelan-like effect that for me recalled Balinese/Javanese music.

This is not music I'd listen to every week, but still I highly recommend it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Hodges on April 16, 2002
Format: Audio CD
The first time I heard this recording, some twenty-five years ago, I was a bit shocked - it was utterly unlike anything I had experienced in "classical" music. But after a few listening sessions it began to grow on me. The repetitions and subtle pattern changes will either enthrall or bore you; one person's trance is another's monotony. Whatever the case, there is much to admire in Terry Riley's classic experiment with structure and instrumentation.
Since this landmark recording, there have been other noteworthy versions. I own an interesting one by the Shanghai Film Orchestra, which includes a number of Chinese instruments which create a uniquely shimmering texture. And the recent recording by the superb Bang on a Can All-Stars is not to be missed. But this one was the first, and has its own place in history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Discophage TOP 500 REVIEWER on August 24, 2010
Format: Audio CD
Riley needs no introduction, and "In C" needs neither introduction nor advocacy. Composed in 1964, it is the composition that invented - or so many say, but not Riley, who has always paid tribute to LaMonte Young for being the mastermind of all of it - what has come to be known as "minimalism", but what I prefer to call "repetitive music", or "repetitive minimalism": it may be based on the repetition of minimal cells, but the result can be all but "minimal", as illustrated by In C.

The score - reproduced on the original LP and here again, although the choice of white print on black surface and the CD-booklet size make it more an image to contemplate than a score to read - is little more than a canvass, consisting indeed of 53 small melodic cells, some limited to three notes/two pitches. There is an additional pitch not represented in the score, called "the pulse": a piano playing a constant 8th-notes, fast tempo ostinato toll of two octave high-Cs. It starts and ends the piece, bare. The principle of the composition is to have any number of any instruments, each playing each of the 53 cells in succession (but some may be omitted), each moving to the next ad lib, though with relative synchronisation with all the rest: the rule here is that there should be no more than five cells distance between any player. The effect, in Riley's own words, is like "lying in a field, and there are cloud formations just passing over, and you're just watching them form and reform".

As many have remarked, though the harmonic basis in C, in moves through various related tonalities.
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