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The Harp of New Albion
Terry Riley
The Harp of New Albion
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Jazz, Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (3) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (7) - Disc #2

The Harp of New Albion is a transfixing solo piano recording, conceived and performed by world-renowned minimalist composer, the ever-innovative Terry Riley. His inspiration for this work came from a legendary harp, lef...  more »

      
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CD Details

All Artists: Terry Riley
Title: The Harp of New Albion
Members Wishing: 5
Total Copies: 0
Label: Celestial Harmonies
Release Date: 1/23/1992
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Jazz, Classical
Styles: Ambient, Techno
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPC: 013711401820

Synopsis

Album Description
The Harp of New Albion is a transfixing solo piano recording, conceived and performed by world-renowned minimalist composer, the ever-innovative Terry Riley. His inspiration for this work came from a legendary harp, left behind in the New World in 1579, on the shores of Nova Albion, which is now called San Francisco Bay. A Native American medicine man is said to have found the harp and placed it on a cliff where the westerly winds played upon it and temperature and humidity changes created an ever-shifting set of tonalities. Riley bases the ten movements of The Harp of New Albion on the concept of tonalities. The liner notes explain the complicated ratios Riley devised for tuning his octaves. He says, "The idea of piano as harp influences my method of playing, as does the tuning from which the particular consonances and dissonances determine the emerging energies that flow through both instrument and performer." Although Riley improvises throughout The Harp of New Albion, each movement is defined by structural or composed elements. Astonishingly, the halo of harmonics drifting above his solo piano creates an orchestral sound, complete with horns, reeds, strings and voices. At times, the melodic interplay is ethereal, the micro-tonal relationships within the standing waves of sounds creating a haunting spectrum. Special note should be taken of the majestic Bosendorfer Imperial grand piano, especially tuned for Riley to play in the acoustically-fabulous Academy of Music in Munich, Germany. The entire recording was accomplished during one incredible night of inspired piano performance.

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CD Reviews

In a word, Wow!
Sor_Fingers | Boulder, CO USA | 10/25/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This was the most amazing recording I may have ever heard. I've loved everything I've heard by Terry Riley and "The Harp of New Albion" is no exception. The tuning system he uses called just intonation really creates a different kind of music unlike anything I've ever heard before. The mircotonal relationships create unique sonorities and the piece has a profound effect on the listener. I didn't know what to expect when I listenened to this, and I was thinking that I might be convulsing in terror from dissonance. It was actually quite the opposite. Rarely was the piece ever uncomfortablly dissonant. In spite of the microtonal tuning system, the music was actually quite consonant and fairly pleasing and relaxing, and yet it was obvious that I was hearing relationships between notes that I've never heard before. I know the sound of a tuning system outside of the traditional "equal temprament" system that has been used throughout the history of western music may sound horrific by mere explanation. But hearing this piece was an incredibly enjoyable experience. The only criticism that I have of the piece is that it is fairly long due to Riley's extensive improvisiation. Running at about 110 minutes, it can start to sound a little overwhelming for that long. The modal sounds can start to sound a little repetitive but it is nevertheless a very incredible listening experience. The future of classical music lies here. Though it took many years for classical music to expand from tonality to atonality, I think it's only a matter of time before microtonality takes a prominent stand and possibly will take over."
A gorgeous solo piano tour de force
James Jones | Clive, IA United States | 10/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This double CD is based on a legend of a harp left behind by Sir Francis Drake in what is now California; the harp was supposedly placed atop an altar on a cliff at the ocean's edge, where the wind playing over its strings created an ever-shifting kaleidoscope of sounds as the changing weather affected its tuning.

Using a tuning other than the equal temperament that Western music has used for several centuries now guarantees unusual results, but it takes a composer and performer such as Riley to create beauty such as on this CD. You'll hear some traditional musical forms here (waltz and even ragtime!), but from a new point of view. It's easy to get lost in this music, but pay attention. It's worth it."
EXTRAORDINARY!
Luc Andre Mandeville | Montreal, Canada | 04/27/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This surprising collection of piano works by minimalist Terry Riley has a lot of unique reverberating harmonics. Riley plays with a 'Well-Tuned Piano' like La Monte Young did before, but Riley does it better. We are used to Terry Riley playing his synthesizers and organs and this is - I think - his first piano recording. And he does not disappoint! Riley's well-knowned virtuosity as a keyboardist truly shines on the piano. And these pieces are very colorful, richly intriguing, and smooth to the ear. 'The idea of piano as harp influences my method of playing, as does the tuning from which the particular consonances and dissonances determine the emerging energies that flow through both the instrument and performer.' Terry Riley, from the booklet."