PARTCH Ensemble

Sonata Dementia

Format: CD
Label: Bridge
UPC: 0090404952524
Catnr: BRIDG 9525
Release date: 06 March 2020
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1 CD
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Catalogue number
BRIDG 9525
Release date
06 March 2020

About the album

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: 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.
Eine Sammlung von Partch-Klassikern, die noch niemand wirklich gehört hat. Seine Partitur für den Film Windsong wurde für den Soundtrack geschnitten, und obwohl Musikliebhaber das Material aus der später erweiterten Daphne of the Dunes erkennen werden, ist das symphonisch strukturierte Original viel dramatischer gestaltet und wird hier zum ersten Mal präsentiert. Es stellt sich heraus, dass es tatsächlich auch zwölf Intrusions gibt, nicht elf.

Eine verrückte Sonate? Oh ja! Obwohl der Komponist sie nie aufgeführt oder aufgenommen hat, ist seine 1950 entstandene Komposition Sonata Dementia dreisätzig: I. "Abstraktion und Wahn", II. Scherzo Schizophrenie, und III. Allegro Paranoia. Bis zum Rand gefüllt mit Humor, Höhenflügen und einer unbändigen Phantasie wurde sie später als "Ring Around the Moon" überarbeitet, aber was für ein Genuss, das Original in seiner ganzen verrückten Pracht zu hören.

Die Bonus Tracks enthüllen noch mehr verlorene Schätze: Die allererste Aufnahme von Partch als Interpret, die sein wohl berühmtestes Stück Barstow: 8 Hitchhiker Inscriptions vor einem Live-Publikum im Jahr 1942, nur ein Jahr nach der Entstehung, spielt.


PARTCH is the GRAMMY® AWARD winning ensemble that specializes in the music & instruments of the iconoclastic American Maverick composer Harry Partch who, between 1930 and 1972, created one of the most amazing bodies of sensually alluring and emotionally powerful music of the 20th century. Partch wrote music drama, dance theater, multi-media extravaganzas, vocal music and chamber music—all to be performed on the extraordinary orchestra of instruments that he designed and built himself.

Since their formation as Just Strings in 1991 to perform the music of Lou Harrison and Harry Partch, the group has gone on to commission and premiere works by Larry Polansky, Mamoru Fujieda, John Luther Adams, Mari Takano, Sasha Bogdonawitsch and others. In 1995 they toured Japan under the auspices of the American Embassy's prestigious Interlink Festival, giving three weeks of concerts and lectures on new music. In 2005, with the completion of their twelfth Partch instrument, the group began performing under the name Partch. They have performed for Chamber Music in Historic Sites, the LA County Museum of Art, UCLA’s Partch Centennial Celebration, Sacramento’s Festival of New American Music, Minnesota Public Radio’s American Mavericks, the Songlines series at Mills College, and the Gordon Getty Concerts at the Getty Center. In 2004, they made their Disney Hall debut premiering Harry Partch’s Bitter Music, and have returned every year since. Partch is the resident ensemble of MicroFest, Los Angeles’ yearly festival of microtonal music.

Their 2006 performance of “Castor & Pollux,” choreographed by Liz Hoefner, was released on the DVD Enclosure 8: Harry Partch (Innova Records). In 2007, Partch performed in Albuquerque (36th Annual Composer’s Symposium), Santa Cruz ( April in Santa Cruz Festival of New Music), Oakland (Mills College Partch Dances premiering Molissa Fenley’s new choreography of “Castor & Pollux”), Disney Hall (their annual REDCAT multimedia survey of Partch’s music), LA’s outdoor festival Grand Performances, and were awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Copland Fund for Music to record Partch’s monumentalBitter Music for Bridge Records. Their 2008 season included the world re-premiere of Partch’s hour long Plectra & Percussion Dances (1952), a week-long residency at Salt Lake City’s RDT (Repertory Dance Theater), and performing opening week at the exciting new Broad Stage for critically acclaimed Jacaranda music series. In 2009, Partch gave the LA premiere of the composer’s 11 Intrusions, and traveled to Mexico on a NEA sponsored exchange with the Guadalajara International Book Fair. 2010 included their performance at LACMA to celebrate the John Baldessari retropective Pure Beauty, while in 2011, they gave the SoCal premiere of Summer 1955, & released their premiere recording of Partch’s Bitter Music, and were featured by the San Francisco Symphony’s American Mavericks Festival in 2012. Recent performances include performances of Anne LeBaron's LSD: the Opera, concerts with the Prism Saxophone Quartet (Kimmel Center, Philadelphia & Roulette, Brooklyn) resulting in their collaborative CD Color Theory [XAS], as well as Vireo: The Spiritual Biography of a Witch's Accuser, the world's first episodic made-for-TV/online opera.

Partch's recording of Bitter Music was Grammy Award nominated for Best Classical Compendium of 2012, while the 57th Grammy Awards nominated their performance of Castor & Pollux for Best Chamber Music Performance, and awarded their Bridge Records release of Plectra & Percussion Dances with the Grammy Award for Best Classical Compendium of 2014.



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