Terry Ri­ley In C nortH­Ern sPy The min­i­mal­ist mas­ter­piece tack­led by In­dian clas­si­cal mu­si­cians.

Prog - - Limelight - MB

Terry Ri­ley’s 1964 com­po­si­tion In C comes with a set of sim­ple instructions. The mu­si­cians play a se­ries of 53 re­peated melodic cells, largely in­de­pen­dently of the other play­ers, while re­fer­ring to a rhyth­mic pulse of a sin­gle note of ‘C’ played in qua­vers on piano or tuned per­cus­sion. And if you start lag­ging too far be­hind the oth­ers, you can miss out a cell. It’s con­cep­tu­ally neat and can be played on any com­bi­na­tion of in­stru­ments. But even Ri­ley ad­mits that he has never heard any­thing like this ver­sion, which sees his love of In­dian clas­si­cal mu­sic – which ini­tially in­spired the piece – re­turned with in­ter­est. It be­gins with a raga in­tro­duc­tion or alap, then a tabla takes on the pulse and the first cell finds the mu­si­cians chant­ing the theme and play­ing it on sitars, winds and strings, both in uni­son and on the off­beat. Ri­ley him­self sug­gested they open up the com­po­si­tion slightly to al­low solo­ing based on the themes, and over the course of an hour it un­folds as a kind of vast mu­si­cal rit­ual. There are some breath­tak­ing mo­ments, such as when the strings sud­denly sweep in en masse with a new theme, and a thrilling, vir­tu­osic all-per­cus­sion sec­tion.

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