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A local newspaper classical music critic called this recording “ravishing beautiful” and the effect “stupendous.” What? How can that be? I was curious. Riley’s In C is a composition with a set of instructions rather than a score per se. He set up 53 different melodies, short and long, in a sequence to be played by any assortment of instruments, each independently per number of repetitions of each stanza and transition to the next. There have been many recordings of In C, all different. I have the original recording on CBS and one with Bang on the Can that seemed more precise in tempo and less chaotic with expanded instrumentation, including Wu Man on pipa. Now, this Ars Nova rendition takes a page from fellow minimalist Steve Reich with sole use of voices and marimbas. What an amazing difference! It reminds me of Javanese gamelan music and, in fact, there is a Balinese gong among the percussion; the mentioned critic thought it much like Medieval vocal music. If you like Reich’s works, such as Music for 18 Instruments and Drumming, then this recording belongs in your collection, no matter how many versions of In C you have. Beautiful and stupendous? Remarkably, yes, indeed. In C, that seminal work, once again proves how special it is, for despite being 40-years old, it is yet ageless, continually reinventing itself.

-some guy on

Ars Nova Ensemble & Percurama Percussion Ensemble-TERRY RILEY’S IN C (2007)


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