Terry Riley: In C
25 June 2015
WQXR (New York)
Elena Saavedra BuckleyIt makes sense to liken "In C" to the movement of water
. As an idea, the piece is free, boundless, big-and-small, and it still manages to be nothing but itself. The recording conducted by Paul Hillier
– using only the spare sounds of voices and mallet instruments – has those qualities, but it sounds (and feels) more like falling sand. On its own, a single plop of the marimba or quiver of the soprano would be solid and abrupt, but the points fit together and disguise themselves as one rippling layer. Hillier writes in the linear notes about visiting Riley at his home
: “I remember that the house was lovely, though I had no sense of the view or distances because everything was shrouded in thick mountain mists.” Listening to this version feels similar, and it’s the best kind of vertigo.