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The Harry Partch Collection Vol 2

Release Date: 10/26/2004 
Label:  New World Records   Catalog #: 80622   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Harry Partch
Performer:  Harry PartchDanlee MitchellElizabeth GentryDonald Pippin,   ... 
Conductor:  Jack McKenzieDanlee MitchellHarry Partch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gate 5 EnsembleHarry Partch Ensemble
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

"Partch was one of the freest of free spirits—which means, by the way, one of the most disciplined, most fit for freedom—and these performances, in all of which Partch was involved, catch the animating spirit of his music, sizzling and redolent...the present issue is primary, indispensable, the authentic voice of a past slipping out of living memory, and—above all—a conduit of exhilaration, a source of joy." Adrian Corleonis, FANFARE

Volume 2 of New World/CRI's Harry Partch collection offers two very different large-scale creations from the maverick composer, theorist, and instrument inventor. The Wayward is made up of four works that vividly depict scenes from the hobo life that Partch knew first-hand in the 1930s.
Read more U.S. Highball is its longest and most substantial section, depicting a transcontinental hobo trip in colorful musical turns. Here Partch exploits his exotic instruments and unique microtonal language to the hilt. The Chromelodeon huffs and puffs like smoky train whistles, surrounded by churning mallet activity and slithering bowed and plucked string work. Snippets of text inspired by real life interweave with sung announcements from the train conductor.

Partch himself intones the cries of bygone newsboys in the brief San Francisco while playing his Adapted Viola, and he's also heard in The Letter (his final recording as a performer). Barstow, a setting of eight hitchhiker inscriptions from a highway railing, stems from a live 1982 performance, directed by Partch's longtime musical confidant Danlee Mitchell. Despite the sonic disparity between pieces (both U.S. Highball and San Francisco were recorded in 1958), the interpretations are unified by their infectious vitality and by the performers' consistently intense involvement. Newband's 1999 recording for Wergo of course benefits from state-of-the-art digital editing and greater accuracy in regard to Partch's written intentions. Nevertheless, the Partch and Mitchell performances are often quicker, dynamically varied, and physically exciting.

One of Partch's rare non-theatrical large-scale creations, And on the Seventh Day Petals Fell in Petaluma, is a series of 34 one-minute instrumental verses. The first 23 consist of duets and trios that showcase the full range of Partch's instruments. Then the verses are sequentially paired and the pairs are played simultaneously to form quartets or quintets (verses 24 through 33). Miraculously, the sonorities generated by the increased textural and rhythmic complexity sound fresh and uncluttered. It matters little that the recording stems from sessions that took place at different times in different venues, and there are noticeable ambient changes between certain verses. Partch biographer Bob Gilmore's booklet notes could not be more informative or insightful.

--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

U.S. Highball by Harry Partch
Conductor:  Jack McKenzie
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gate 5 Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943; USA 
Date of Recording: 1958 
Venue:  Evanston, Illinois 
San Francisco by Harry Partch
Performer:  Harry Partch (Voice), Harry Partch (Viola), Danlee Mitchell (Kithara),
Elizabeth Gentry (Chromelodeon)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943; USA 
Date of Recording: 1958 
Venue:  Evanston, Illinois 
The Letter by Harry Partch
Performer:  Donald Pippin (), Ben Johnston (), Randy Hoffman (Omicron Belly Drum),
David Dunn (Kithara), Harry Partch (Voice), Harry Partch (Omicron Belly Drum),
Dennis Dunn (Harmonic Canon), Betty Johnston ()
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943/1972; USA 
Date of Recording: 1972 
Venue:  Encinitas & San Diego, California 
Notes: This selection includes dubbed-in interludes from the 1950 recording of this piece by Harry Partch, Ben and Betty Johnston, and Donald Pippin. 
Barstow "8 Hitchhiker Inscriptions from a Highway Railing at Barstow, California" by Harry Partch
Conductor:  Danlee Mitchell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Harry Partch Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1941; USA 
Date of Recording: 1982 
Venue:  Live - Mills College, Oakland, Californi 
And on the Seventh Day Petals Fell in Petaluma by Harry Partch
Conductor:  Harry Partch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gate 5 Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1963-1964, rev. 1966; USA 
Date of Recording: 1964 
Venue:  Petaluma, California 

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