|1989 performance of the 53-part minimalist masterpiece originally written by Terry Riley in 1964, performed here by the Shanghai Film Orchestra, along with two other compositions by David Mingyue Liang: "Music Of A Thousand Springs" & "Zen (Ch'an) Of Water". The version of 'In C" is the first performance of a Western new music work by a Chinese ensemble in mainland China (performed on only indigenous instrumentation: various lutes, zithers, mouth organs, flutes and percussion). This version has been mixed by Brian Eno, Jon Hassell and Terry Riley and adds a whole new layer of Eastern mystic to this undisputed pulse classic.
There is no doubt about composer Terry Riley's position in the history of 20th-century music. When his watershed composition In C was recorded in 1964, very little of its ilk was available. In C is a pulsating exploration of musical tones, all of them surrounding a riveting repetition of a C note on the piano. To simplify the event, its debut was the formal birth of minimalism. While Riley's original CBS recording has strong charm, and bragging rights as first-on-the-block, one measure of a piece's greatness is its translatability. To this end, Celestial Harmonies presents the Shanghai Film Orchestra on traditional Chinese instruments playing the piece. Percussive, lilting, and thick with energy, Shanghai is monumentally faithful to Riley's designs, loping and looping the segments brilliantly and utilizing the Chinese instruments' pitches to the advantage of the composition. --Andrew Bartlett