The PARTCH Ensemble players deserve much credit for performing on the Partch period instruments. These are only accessible for practice a few weeks prior to the show, have unique layouts and are tuned to many exotic pitches. Just reading the part scores is also very demanding. The difficulties are formidable, but the playing in this concert was smooth enough that the listener’s ear soon adapts to the alternate tuning and becomes comfortably immersed the Partch sound world.
“This hour with the master sheds light on his theories, his art, and his genius…It is a beautifully conceived and executed release…a valuable historic artifact and a “fetish level” collectible…(Of course you can get the excellent recording and the texts, learned liner notes, and historical photos on a pdf file, the recording on a digital file, but collectors will long cherish this museum quality document. Suffice it to say that some of my Christmas shopping is done now.)
…So whether you just want to hear the performance or want to own this objet d’art in all its glory this is a fine way to introduce yourself or a friend to this unique American genius.”
— New Music Buff
Harry Partch, 1942 provides a wealth of material that illuminates an active and highly developed intellect that will cause even the most doubtful listener to reconsider the value of his work… a brilliantly organized portrait of the events in a critical year for Harry Partch – and for new music in general. This handsome book, with its meticulously engineered CD, belongs on the bookshelf of anyone who is studying or working in alternate tuning.
— Sequenza 21
“A real gem…”
— New Music Buff
“Stunning…when I got to the end of the CD and picked my jaw up off the floor…it sounds like something Tom Waits might have performed at a late night dive bar open mic on a snowy Tuesday night in December.”
“Now, this priceless recording, its sound brushed up into its Sunday best, is where it belongs – before the public…It’s so much sheer fun that you’ll want to keep coming back to it.”
— Music Web International
“This was my first experience with the PARTCH Ensemble but having now seen them and because of the amazing assortment of instruments that musician/composer Harry Partch designed and constructed, I will make a point of attending when they are able to appear live once again at REDCAT.”
The ensemble put a priority on lovable insouciance and, at times, outright humor. The players wore lively hobo outfits, played cards and thumbed noses when not otherwise occupied by the demanding instruments. They took turns intoning the texts, with Schneider as the main Woody Guthrie-esque hitchhiking composer. Mainly, though, they played gloriously.
…the music of the boundary-busting visionary who carefully crafted Rube Goldberg-looking instruments in order to duplicate the sounds he envisioned in his head — wondrous, bouncy rhythms that swim in a sonic universe bursting with celestially shifting moods — seems to touch people who hear it — and certainly affects those who perform it…
“…done…with a brand of reverence, scholarship, and quality of both recording and performances such that this is a collector’s dream and a major contribution to the history of microtonal musics and American music in general.”
“…impressively played album…”
“…twangs and boogies and galumphs and goes bump in the night, punctuated by vocal interjections of enigmatic import. A bouncy but entrancing ride.”
“The ensemble PARTCH…has made it a habit to unlock the mysteries and sounds of its namesake composer…his creations really require a new vocabulary. The members of PARTCH certainly speak it, whatever “it” may be.”
“To Partch aficionados this disc will be an essential purchase…”
The ensemble PARTCH is as true to the letter and spirit of Partch’s music as his own groups, and John Schneider’s intoned vocals even sound like Partch.
Step into the inventive imagination of Harry Partch, where unusual instruments and unexpected ideas thrive. The performances are direct.
– BBC Music Magazine
There is a uniquely American sensibility at work
Kurt Hauswirth interviews Partch Ensemble Music Director John Schneider.
August 12, 2019
Interview with T.J. Troy, Erin Barnes, and Nick Terry of Partch Ensemble.
August 16, 2019
Partch managed to be ahead of his time and behind it at the same time. Schneider and his wonderful ensemble are the latest announcement that whatever time that is, Partch’s has come
– Mark Swed, LA Times
As always, the Partch ensemble wowed the crowd into a standing ovation.
The real fun begins, however, with “U. S. Highball,” which, along with “Barstow,” is a “hobo” composition. The film alternates between the ensemble performing the composition and footage of the sorts of freight trains and railroad yards around which hobo life and transportation were based. I have now seen this film several times and have no qualms about saying how exhilarating I find each viewing.
– Stephen Smoliar, The Rehearsal Studio
It’s some of the best introductory material… Anyone interested in the American avant-garde will appreciate this.
– Steve Smoltje, Big Takeover
“Outlandish…” — New York Times
Funny, moving, inventive and insanely theatrical…an unforgettable performance.
—San Francisco Chronicle
The ensemble that calls itself, simply, Partch—its weird and wonderful sonorities, truly unlike anything else on Earth or any neighboring celestial body, filled the air at REDCAT most enchantingly. Marvelous to watch and to hear, the physical beauty of their structure and the haunting resonance of their sounds, as they wandered among the labyrinthine designs of Partch’s 43-note octaves and the vagaries of their percussive adventures, re-created the living experience as it was when Partch and his gang were among us.
—Alan Rich, LA Weekly
Every seat in REDCAT was taken, and the audience was the elusive devoted dream crowd that classical presenters lust after: young and old, hipsters, academics and nerds, all sharing a passion for Partch…The performances were stunning. Partch made a big point of the corporeality of performance. His instruments and tuning were intended to reach a listener physically, even erotically. He wanted performers who were physical presences. And he got them in the likes of Erin Barnes on the Diamond Marimba, whose performances were spectacular dances in themselves. The same could be said for David Johnson (cloud chamber bowls) and T.J. Troy (bass marimba).
— Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times
Schneider, whose gracious stage personality is the opposite of Partch’s, nevertheless manages toconvey the composer through his own voice, which is exactly what all lasting music must be capable of sustaining, even in such unique works as Barstow and excerpts from Partch’s journal, Bitter Music….Enthralling, as well, was the entire ensemble which has impressively mastered Partch’s instruments… performances lyrical and theatrical, emphasized the musical side of a composer too often known for his quirkiness.
—Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times (2001)
World-class tribute….(Partch) managed their exotic gadgetry with appealing skill…. John Schneider – guitarist, composer, baritone, microtonal guru…delivered a pretty good facsimile of the old boy’s stentorian growl…as long as there are John Schneiders to re-create passably the sounds of Partch, we’ll have a tenuous grip on this unique byway in the annals of American innovation.
— Alan Rich, LA Weekly (2001)
Best of 2008—The Artists’ Artists