"The quality of this music depends on the spontaneous interaction that will develop within the group of performers. A good performance reveals a world teeming with groups and sub-groups that continually form, separate and re-form..."- Terry Riley
A review of any version of "In C" begins with a brief mention of the piece's author. Terry Riley allegedly wrote all 53 patterns that compose "In C" in one night, back in the spring of 1964. The piece is seen as revolutionary, and it's author may be considered as the father of the Minimalistic movement.
The piece itself isn't extremely complex in that it's basically comprised of repeating musical motifs, all done in C. Different instruments are grouped together, weave in and out of the motifs constantly, as the motifs themselves expand and retract, as if the music itself were breathing.The groupings can change as the piece goes along, giving the music different textures. Now what seems simple enough on paper can apparently be very difficult to play. As quoted above, if the group of musicians playing this piece doesn't have an almost telepathic synergy, the piece can sound discordant.The version under review today is by the French ensemble DesAccordes. This version is adapted for classic and electric guitars, electric basses, harp, cello, and percussions. It has been divided into a 4-part piece, like a symphony, which is an unusual interpretation as this piece is usually played as one continuous movement.
If you enjoy hypnotic, repetitive music, then this piece can be seen as the benchmark. This is the only version I've ever heard so I can't compare it to others. Personally, I like the instrument selection on this disc and it seems to suit the nature of the music perfectly.
This can seem to drone on if one isn't paying attention, but the careful listener can pick up all the subtleties the piece offers and may find it most gratifying.
- Part I (4:42)
- Part II (10:43)
- Part III (8:29)
- Part IV (11:40)