Notes and Editorial Reviews
This recording of The Bewitched has been available in one form or another for nearly half-a-century—as an LP set on Partch’s own Gate 5 label, from CRI on LPs, as a CRI CD, and—with remastering by Joseph Dalton—as the fourth and last issue of CRI’s 1998 “Harry Partch Collection”. Its wacky whimsy, piquant microtonal weirdness, and fantasticated satire on musical tradition and American pop culture (still telling, by the way) may be presumed to be—but probably aren’t—known quantities. In any case, they may be far better known from New World’s splendid new recension. Partch’s biographer, Bob Gilmore, provides eminently readable annotation conveying one to the heart of Partch’s aesthetic, fleshed out, so to speak, with production photos
suggesting Partch’s freewheeling approach to danced theater. The composer’s own notes have been carried over, though Gilmore lends their flip surrealism a revealing context. The original tape, made just after the 1957 premiere at the University of Illinois-Urbana, has been mined by Mark Hoffman and Bill Blue with startling results. As the booklet proudly notes, “Meticulous analog and digital restoration . . . has brought new life to this amazing recording, with sonic qualities approaching those of modern recording technology.” And that’s a fact—sound is more than marginally richer and fuller than from any other issue. It’s only fair to note that a 1980 performance of The Bewitched, taped by WDR-Cologne, led by Kenneth Gaburo, is more highly inflected, though nearly identical in time. Gaburo and John Garvey, conductor at the premiere, were both students at University of Illinois when Partch was there—present at the creation. Moreover, the Gaburo performance is part of a three-CD set including Partch’s first large theater work, King Oedipus, and his spoken introduction to The Bewitched (Enclosure 5, Innova 405). The collector will want it all. Those discovering Partch have seldom before had such a welcoming introduction, while those who’ve grooved to The Bewitched—or those tantalized and puzzled by it—will find New World’s “upgrade” gratifying.
Adrian Corleonis, FANFARE
Works on This Recording
The Bewitched by Harry Partch
Freda Schell (Voice)
University of Illinois Ensemble
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1955; USA
Date of Recording: 1957
Venue: University of Illinois, Champaigne, IL
Length: 75 Minutes 43 Secs.
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