Harry Partch: Plectra and Percussion Dances

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This group of three pieces, intended by Harry Partch as a single triptych, was performed several times in the 1950s, incompletely and with an incomplete ensemble. Partch himself discusses the work in these terms in an included spoken introduction from 1953, worth the price of admission in itself. This release marks its first complete performance, and the group of performers, simply called Partch, is ideal: they have studied Partch's music in depth, including his often difficult notation system, and they know it well enough to make it fun. Which it should be and is here. The Plectra and Percussion Dances are accurately titled. They were actually intended for dancers, and a performance that included them would be the next stage in the revival of an eminently worthwhile work, but they work without them. They're for varied small ensembles of plucked and percussion instruments that periodically join forces into larger ones, and the rhythms are constantly varied. The most fun is the central section, Ring Around the Moon, where a speaking voice is added and does such surprising things as end one section with the words "Well, bless my soul!" and another with "Shake hands now, boys, and when the bell rings, come out fighting." More even than an important Partch premiere, this is one of those rare releases that presents Partch's music in its proper playful spirit.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Castor & Pollux
1 1:52
2 1:50
3 1:51
4 1:50
5 1:50
6 1:51
7 1:51
8 2:05
Ring Around the Moon
9 2:55
10 2:14
11 2:48
12 1:29
Even Wild Horses
13 3:06
14 3:01
15 2:55
16 3:24
17 2:26
18 3:37
19 3:00
20 2:37
21 7:11
blue highlight denotes track pick