Riley: In C, Sunrise of the Planetary Dream Collector CD review – fun, breezy and cheesy

Ragazze Quartet/Slagwerk Den Haag/Kapok
(Channel Classics)

Terry Riley in 2005
The composer Terry Riley in 2005. Photograph: Chris Felver/Getty Images

Terry Riley wrote In C in the early 1960s as a gleaming, freewheeling utopia: a blissed-out soundbite of non-hierarchic social empowerment in which one person plays a repeated C (the first performance at San Francisco’s Tape Music Centre featured a young Steve Reich laying it down on a Wurlitzer) while the rest of the gathering thrums along with 53 variously interlocking little phrases. The piece became a 20th century classic and has been performed a zillion different ways, from 15-minute miniatures to multi-hour epics.

This latest, Dutch version, clocks in at 40 minutes and combines a chipper-sounding string quartet with percussion ensemble, taking the music into a cheesy kind of party groove after a polite start. It’s fun and breezy, if not a whole lot more. The disc also contains a dubiously “jazzy” take on Sunrise of the Planetary Dream Collector, originally for string quartet, here with added horn, electronics and percussion. It’s all innocuous and inventive, but I wanted 10 times more grit to the sound.


Kate Molleson

The GuardianTramp

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