Harry Partch

The Harry Partch Collection, Vol. 2

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AllMusic Review by Uncle Dave Lewis

The Harry Partch Collection, Vol. 2, contains a good deal of Partch's most immediate and appealing music as collected from Gate 5 recordings by CRI. It contains all of Partch's major early cycle The Wayward, starting with the definitive Gate 5 Ensemble recording of Partch's hobo road movie for your ears, U.S. Highball. A late Partch recording of The Letter is achieved through splicing a half-finished 1972 performance with instrumental parts lifted from an earlier recording. San Francisco is presented in a version made for release on Gate 5 but not issued during Partch's lifetime. Partch did not record Barstow for Gate 5, but here it is represented in a latter-day Partch Ensemble reading from 1982, featuring Partch's group as led by Danlee Mitchell. Although recorded most recently, it sounds the worst; the guy who did the live vocal mix on this occasion must've had a bad day. But this performance of Barstow is terrific, sharply played with the ensemble punching up the humor of the text.

While to Partch And on the Seventh Day Petals Fell in Petaluma was no more than a series of preliminary sketches for his largest theater work, Delusion of the Fury, to his fans "Petals" is a monster, a major door-opening into Partch's corporeal world. The LP edition of "Petals" was one of the best-mastered LPs CRI ever produced and since it was issued in 1966; by comparison the master tape seems to have suffered some deterioration, and the resulting now-deleted CRI's CD of "Petals" is clear but not very loud. New World Records' 2004 reissue of The Harry Partch Collection, Vol. 2, is considerably more generous in terms of volume and clarity.

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