Wednesday, October 10, 2007

HurdAudio Rotation: The Delusion Sets In

Harry Partch: Delusion of the Fury: A Ritual of Dream and Delusion. Conducted by Danlee Mitchell. 1999 (re-issued from the 1971 Columbia Masterworks recording). Innova: 406.

Delusion is a sonic universe so complete, so inviting that putting on this disc is an invitation to live within the alternate reality of Harry Partch's imagining. The call of a bacchanalian, ritualistic sensibility continues to stand in sharp contrast to the world that Partch turned his back on when he invented these instruments, this intonation system and this incredible music. As his final and most ambitious work, Delusion of the Fury remains a significant point of reference in the HurdAudio Rotation.

Ludwig van Beethoven: The Complete Quartets - Volume V. Recorded by The Orford String Quartet. 1994. Delos International: DE 3035.

String Quartet in C Major, Op. 59 No. 3 ("Razumovsky")
String Quartet in E-Flat Major, Op. 74 ("Harfen")

Andrew Dawes: violin
Kenneth Perkins: violin
Terence Helmer: viola
Denis Brott: cello

With this listening I've finally dipped my ears into all three of the "Razumovsky" quartets - an impressive set of polished "middle period" pieces from the old master. The Opus 74 also falls into that transition period between Classical and Romantic sensibilities. (At least that's how it sounds to me). The transition exposes a transparency between the two styles that is fascinating to hear. The Classical language seems to swell with additional syntax and ever expanding inventiveness (to continue the habit of torturing the 'music as syntactical language' metaphor). The final V-I progression of the Op. 74 feels tacked on somehow. Like a soft let down - or nod toward cadential convention in the immediate wake of so much vigorous activity.

Albert Ayler: Holy Ghost [box set] - disc 4. 2004. Revenant Records: 213.

Albert Ayler Sextet: April 17, 1966 @ La Cave, Cleveland, OH
Albert Ayler: tenor saxophone
Don Ayler: trumpet
Frank Wright: tenor saxophone
Michel Samson: violin
Mutawef Shaheed: bass
Ronald Shannon Jackson: drums

Albert Ayler Quintet: November 3, 1966 @ Berlin Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany
Albert Ayler: tenor saxophone
Don Ayler: trumpet
Michel Samson: violin
Bill Folwell:bass
Beaver Harris: drums

There's a satisfying release of aggressive energy in these sessions - with Michel Samson sawing away with a perfect counterbalance to Ayler's tenor playing. I'm struck by just how different this violin sound is compared to what Ornette Coleman does with that instrument in his own free improvisations. This is hardly surprising given the forceful conviction of "Truth Is Marching In" of "Zion Hill" compared to the off-centered harmolodics of a "Lonely Woman" or "Change of the Century." Not to mention the fact that violin is Samson's primary instrument. It's fortunate that these 1966 sets were documented.

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