Partch: Sonata Dementia
Format: COMPACT DISC
Krieger, Ulrich; Partch Ensemble; Rosenboom, Dan
Did you know that the legendary American Maverick Harry Partch wrote music for West Coast jazz icons Chet Baker and Gerry Mulligan? They never got a chance to play his smart and funny Ulysses at the Edge of the World, but this “Minor Adventure in Rhythm” really swings in time signatures that would have made Dave Brubeck blush. So opens a collection of Partch classics that no one has really heard before. His score for the film Windsong was edited for the soundtrack, and though music lovers will recognize the material from the subsequently expanded Daphne of the Dunes, the symphonically structured original is much more dramatically crafted, and is presented here for the first time. It turns out that there are actually Twelve Intrusions, too, not eleven. And a demented sonata? Oh yes! Though the composer never performed or recorded it, his 1950 composition Sonata Dementia is in three movements: I. Abstraction & Delusion, II. Scherzo Schizophrenia, and III. Allegro Paranoia. Filled to the brim with humor, flights of fancy, and a febrile imagination, it was later reworked as “Ring Around the Moon,” but what a treat to hear the original in all its zany glory. The Bonus Tracks reveal even more lost treasures: here is the original 1904 Edison recording of the Native American “Cançion” that Partch had transcribed in the 1930s and used to close his final Intrusion “Cloud Chamber Music.” But best of all, the first-ever recording of Partch as performer, playing what is probably his most famous piece, Barstow: 8 Hitchhiker Inscriptions in front of a live audience in 1942, just a year after it was written.