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The Harry Partch Collection, Volume 1
NEW WORLD RECORDS
Reissue of CRI 751. "This newly remastered reissue marks a welcome return to the catalog of the first volume of the classic 4-CD collection that was formerly available on the CRI label. The works recorded on this disc span the first six years of what Harry Partch (1901-1974), slightly tongue-in-cheek, called the 'third period' of his creative life. They show him moving away from the obsession with 'the intrinsic music of spoken words' that had characterized his earlier output (the vocal works of 1930-33 and 1941-45) and towards an instrumental idiom, predominantly percussive in nature. This path was to take him through the 'music-dance drama'
(1951) -- the culmination of his 'spoken word' manner -- to the 'dance satire'
(1954-55), in which his new percussive idiom manifests itself. The three works on this disc show Partch before, during, and after this period of transition. In their quiet, forlorn way, the
are among the most compelling and beautiful of Partch's works. The individual pieces were composed at various times between August 1949 and December 1950, and only later gathered together as a cycle. Nonetheless they form a unified whole, with a nucleus of eight songs framed by two instrumental preludes and an essentially instrumental postlude. Although foreshadowed by the dance sequences of
Plectra and Percussion Dances
(1952) are the first of Partch's major works to be wholly instrumental in conception. The final work on this disc is
Ulysses at the Edge
, written at Partch's studio at Gate 5 in July 1955.
, which Partch describes as a 'minor adventure in rhythm,' is unique among his mature compositions in that, in its original form, it did not call for any of his own instruments."
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