Sony Masterwords Re-Releases Terry Riley's Pioneering "IN C"
In Anticipation of Carnegie Hall’s Performance of In C on April 24th
To celebrate the 45th anniversary of Terry Riley’s collaborative music piece In C — a landmark work that gave birth to the minimalist movement in the 1960s — Sony Masterworks is releasing the first ever re-mastering of the original session master tapes. The re-mastering lends an enhanced clarity and transparency to the piece’s joyful polyphony of overlapping musical motives.
This reissue package features both the original material and new liner notes transcribed from recent interviews with Terry Riley; David Behrman, the project’s original session producer; and several of the performers from the original studio sessions. The new essay by Jackson Braider conveys the feeling of excitement, innovation, and camaraderie that must have hung in the air in the recording studio in 1968, four years after In C was first performed. The score of 53 motifs is reproduced in the packaging — a simple blueprint for a strangely powerful work.
It is hard to overestimate the impact that Terry Riley’s In C has had on music of the twentieth century, from psychedelic pop rock to the minimalism of Philip Glass, John Adams, and Steve Reich. It was a watershed moment in music history: Riley employed the cellular compositional style of surrealism, which had so alienated classical music from the mainstream, and created his own musical language that spoke in a popular, tonal idiom. No less a cultural figure than Pete Townsend, of the classic rock band The Who, paid tribute to Riley’s influence with the song “Baba O’Riley.”
The score of In C consists of 53 phrases, which range from a single repeated note to a series of running sixteenth notes. It was written for any number of instruments, with each player freely repeating a phrase as many times as desired before proceeding to the next. As a consequence, unpredictable layers of the same and successive motifs occur, creating elaborate textures and polyrhythms. The piece ends when all of the instruments have reached the last motif. It can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour-and-a-half to complete, though some performances have lasted for hours. Despite the controlled, euphoric mayhem, the tonal center of the piece always stays comfortably close to C.
About the Carnegie Hall Presents series:
The re-release of this historic recording of In C is part of an ongoing collaboration between Carnegie Hall and Sony Masterworks entitled Carnegie Hall Presents. The first release in this collection, The Original Jacket Collection: Bernstein Conducts Bernstein, was issued in fall 2008 and was followed by Lift Every Voice, Honoring The African American Musical Legacy in February 2009. This series of CD releases celebrates special concert events with meaningful companion recordings.
Apr. 24 Carnegie Hall/Stern Auditorium One night only
Tickets from $21 - $72 available at www.carnegiehall.org.