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The Harry Partch Collection Vol 2

Album Summary

>Partch, Harry : The Wayward, cycle or 4 pieces for voices & Partch instruments
>Partch, Harry : And on the Seventh Day Petals Fell in Petaluma, for large ensemble of Partch instruments
Performers Conductor Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

"NWR are doing an invaluable job, keeping these recordings in circulation. This particular collection should appeal to all grades of interest, from absolute newcomers to die-hard Partch fans looking to upgrade their old CRI LPs - assuming that they haven't done so already. However, drawing another parallel with Ives, to absolute newcomers I would suggest that having ears eager, or even desperate for new experiences, although not essential is nevertheless advisable. One of the virtues of this CD is its balance, roughly a 50-50 split between the rough and the smooth. In the rough - the stuff of the streets and railroads - Partch presents an entirely new view of the vernacular, one that elicits art from the abject. In the smooth - the aesthetic and experimental - Partch provides an insight into the intricacies of his invention. Here you are shown both sides of the coin: one excites your imagination, the other intrigues your intellect - and both are likely to drop your jaw in awe." -MusicWeb

Notes & Reviews:

The second volume of CRI's series of Partch works includes several major pieces and a couple of exquisite jewels. The first four compositions are grouped under the general heading, "The Wayward," all of which deal, in part, with the musical rendering of everyday American speech, particularly the slang employed by migrant workers and hoboes in the Depression era of the 1930s. "U.S. Highball" is a string of such exclamations, asides, and dispirited remarks set to a nonet of Partch's idiosyncratic instruments, including various percussion, strings, and justly tuned organs. The exoticism of the instrumental sound contrasts squarely with the everyday patterns of the speech (both sung and spoken), creating a unique kind of tension rarely encountered elsewhere. Next, who but Partch would have though of orchestrating the cries of newsboys selling their wares on a foggy San Francisco night? Or setting the text of a letter from a friend to music, sometimes chatty, sometimes carping on personal matters? The result is hugely affecting, as the composer is able to ferret out the deep humanity beneath the superficial observations and provide precisely the right accompaniment, not quite sentimental but extremely sympathetic (although this 1972 recording doesn't quite reach the heights of the original 1950 version). For "Barstow," Partch went to an even more basic text source: the inscriptions and graffiti found on a highway railing in the remote California town, left over the years by itinerant travelers, not all of it "respectable" by any means (the piece ends with the shout, "Why in hell did you come, anyway?"). The final work, "And on the Seventh Day Petals Fell in Petaluma," is sheer bliss, a showpiece for his invented instruments arranged in a series of 34 one-minute-long sections, gradually increasing from duos to a concluding septet. Many of the themes were working models for those employed in his soon-to-be-written masterwork Delusion of the Fury. They are scrumptious lines full of otherworldly melodies and infectious rhythms, both serving as wonderful illustrations of his instruments' capabilities and utterly delightful miniatures in their own right. A superb recording, The Harry Partch Collection, Vol. 2 is a must-have for any self-respecting fan and a reasonable introduction to the composer's work for the intrigued listener. ~ Brian Olewnick


The Wire (p.56) - "[I]ts fascinating to hear how Partch's alertness to the existence of a multiplicity of languages resulted in an idiom so consistently and intensely personal."


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Works Details

>Partch, Harry : The Wayward, cycle or 4 pieces for voices & Partch instruments
  • Performers: Elizabeth Gentry (Chromelodeon); Dennis Dunn (Harmonic Canon); Danlee Mitchell (Kithara); David Dunn (Kithara); Harry Partch (Voice)
  • Conductor: Jack McKenzie
  • Ensemble: Harry Partch Ensemble
  • Running Time: 40 min. 17 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1941-1967

>Partch, Harry : And on the Seventh Day Petals Fell in Petaluma, for large ensemble of Partch instruments
  • Performer: Harry Partch
  • Ensemble: Gate 5 Ensemble of the World
  • Running Time: 35 min. 50 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1963-1966