Review: Rare Partch outing at Lincoln Center Festival

Posted on: August 12, 2015

“Harry Partch, the rigorous wild man of American music, wrote, in 1935, ‘This isn’t Germany, and this isn’t the eighteenth century, and I’m trying to give myself, and others, a good basis for a new and great music of the people,’ ” writes Alex Ross in the August 10 New Yorker. “Partch, who died in 1974, might have been astonished to see that a German group—Musikfabrik, a virtuoso new-music ensemble based in Cologne—has lately become his chief international advocate.” In July, Partch’s 1969 music-theater piece Delusion of the Fury was performed by MusikFabrik at Lincoln Center Festival with “a remarkable array of bespoke instruments.… Until Musikfabrik entered the picture, Partch’s major scores could be performed only when [Partch’s instrument] collection was made available.… Thomas Meixner, a frequent Musikfabrik collaborator, undertook the arduous task of making replicas of the instruments, some twenty-five in all…. The instruments produce voluptuous and varied timbres, from the twangling of the zitherlike Harmonic Canon to the deep Jurassic boom of the Marimba Eroica…. ‘Delusion of the Fury’ progresses from eerie nocturnal whispers to a colossal cathedral roar of organs, gongs, and massed voices.” Also reviewed in the column is this summer’s production of Ethel Smyth’s rarely performed opera The Wreckers at Bard College, conducted by Leon Botstein.

Posted August 12, 2015