Harry Partch: The Bewitched

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The earliest surviving recording of Harry Partch's "Dance Satire" The Bewitched was made in 1957 from a production of the work given at University of Illinois and originally issued on his own Gate 5 Records. This is one of Partch's longest continuous works of music and perhaps the most successful realization of his ideas about ritual theater, which he hoped in vain to make obsolete the "music drama" of Richard Wagner, to be produced and recorded during Partch's own lifetime. Indeed, The Bewitched has an almost Wagnerian scale, but is wildly different in just about every other way. To what extent can be gauged simply by mentally visualizing one of Partch's characteristic scene settings: "Visions Fill the Eyes of a Defeated Basketball Team in the Shower Room." The music, played by an orchestra of 18 Partch instruments, is some of the most elaborate and complex that he ever conceived. However, Partch goes to greater extent to incorporate alien styles and ideas in The Bewitched perhaps more so than in any other work this side of The Dreamer That Remains.

This is not performed by the Gate 5 Ensemble so often credited on Partch's Gate 5 Records, which sometimes consisted of just himself, overdubbed, playing all the instruments. For The Bewitched Partch trained two dozen musicians, dancers, and actors from the University of Illinois to realize his vision. There was never a tighter and more disciplined group of Partch musicians than these, and the album is justifiably a classic. This is the first CRI CD issue of The Bewitched, which took over for its LP version of the same thing; later it was repackaged and remastered as the fourth and final volume in CRI's Harry Partch Collection. Since CRI's demise in 2002, the Harry Partch Collection, including The Bewitched, has been taken over and greatly improved by New World Records.

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