In C Terry Riley"s In C, one of the most influential compositions
of the past quarter century, has been played by almost every conceivable
combination of instruments; however, the Shanghai Film Orchestra"s version
ranks as one of the most exciting and exotic interpretations. It marks the
25th anniversary of the piece, and represents the first time a Western new
music piece has been recorded in China.
In C is a rhythmic, energetic work, but it also echoes the mystical,
embroidered music of the Near East and India. By staying in or around the
key of C, this 1964 work creates a model sound that can be seen as a
forerunner of today"s minimalist and world music styles.
The Shanghai Film Orchestra plays this contemporary Western work on
traditional Chinese instruments. The tuning is different, and the tone
colors of the ancient Chinese bells and strings lend a new vibrancy to the
piece. The construction of this version is equally striking. Instead of
following the score straight through, earlier parts are brought back and
woven into a tapestry of sound even more mesmerizing than Riley"s original
The talented Chinese-American composer, David Mingyue Liang, contributes
two works that extend the orchestra"s range to include the ethereal sounds
of bowed vibes and the haunting resonance of China"s only complete set of
mangluo gongs. This remarkable recording, the result of a cultural openness
in China, proves that the East and West have much to say to each other.