Sony Masterworks Re-Releases Terry Riley's Pioneering In C



In Anticipation of Carnegie Hall's Performance of In C on April 24th

"Music Like None Other on Earth" -- San Francisco Chronicle

"Terry Riley's In C is one of the definitive masterpieces of the twentieth century." -- Hi-Fi Magazine, original LP review


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.

The re-release of Terry Riley's In C is part of the Carnegie Hall Presents series of CDs that through an ongoing collaboration between Sony Masterworks and Carnegie Hall offers companion releases, in many cases, in conjunction with special concerts. 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. The next release in this collection will be Mahler The Complete Symphonies, a newly remastered edition of Leonard Bernstein's landmark recordings of the Mahler symphonies, released in advance of Carnegie Hall's Mahler symphony series in May.

To coincide with the 40th anniversary, Sony Masterworks is proud to present the "In C" podcast, a free 6-episode series featuring reminiscences from musician Jon Hassell, producer David Behrman, author Robert Carl and other surprises. The podcast will be available starting Tuesday, April 14, 2009 at

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 serialism, 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.

Paraphrasing Lukas Foss, the composer describes the feeling of listening to the piece: "To understand this piece, you have to think like you're lying in a field, and there are cloud formations just passing over, and you're just watching them form and re-form."

New York audiences will have a rare opportunity to experience the piece for themselves on April 24th, when Carnegie Hall presents In C in Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage, its largest, most prestigious stage. The performance joins together Terry Riley, four original In C performers, the Kronos Quartet, composers Philip Glass and Osvaldo Golijov, and a roster of players from Hindustani singer Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan to Saturday Night Live bandleader Lenny Pickett.

About the Composer:

Terry Riley is a composer, pianist, keyboard player, and saxophonist. His hypnotic, multi-layered, brightly orchestrated, eastern-flavored improvisations and compositions set the stage for the prevailing interest in a New Tonality. Riley's 1984 work, Cadenza on the Night Plain, was selected by both Time and Newsweek as one of the 10 best classical albums of the year, and his epic five-quartet cycle Salome Dances for Peace was selected as the best classical album of the year by USA Today and was nominated for a Grammy Award. Over the past 30 years, Riley has regularly performed solo piano concerts of his works and also appeared in duo concerts. He has scored three feature films and was listed in the London Sunday Times as "one of the 1000 makers of the 20th Century."


  Apr. 24   Carnegie Hall/Stern Auditorium /Perelman Stage   One night only

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