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U.S. Highball

U.S. Highball

17 May 2005

£5.99 (VAT included if applicable)

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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 19 Aug 2003
  • Release Date: 19 Aug 2003
  • Label: Nonesuch/WBR
  • Copyright: 2003 Nonesuch Records
  • Record Company Required Metadata: Music file metadata contains unique purchase identifier. Learn more.
  • Total Length: 28:43
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001F35EDO

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 7 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
David Barron and Kronos do justice to a masterpiece 18 Nov 2003
By RC - Published on
Format: Audio CD
The performance by David Barron and the Kronos Quartet of Harry Partch's landmark "US Highball" provides an experience of precise abandon. This entertaining, demanding, and thoroughly original work is given a performance in which the highlight is certainly Mr. Barron's expressive reading of Partch's gem of a text, in which vignettes narrating the hobo's life appear as brief scenes, sometimes hilariously funny, as in the statement by an old man emerging from a piano crate, who tells the gathering of hobos who have just arrived in his train yard, "I used to be a bum once"; or the hobo who observes concerning the passing motorists, "They don't stop much, do they?" Mr. Barron's ability to modulate his inflection, accent, and tone with the greatest flexibility, while still articulating the words so that they are always intelligible, bring a vitality to the performance which Partch clearly intended, and it is this vitality which, supported by the Kronos' standard excellence, makes this performance an experience to be treasured. This reviewer has driven across the country on several occasions, and the performance captured wonderfully the sense of changing vistas and conditions characteristic of such journeys.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
small reservations, but that's only because I'm biased 3 Aug 2006
By Mr. Richard K. Weems - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I cringe a little whenEVER I see a Partch transcripted for something other than his original instrumentation. I think that's because Partch's work at creating his own music and theatre for that music was so creative and unique that I never tire of it and want to see newer recordings using those wonderful music machines just so I know that Partch's ideas won't fade in time and remain only in some select recordings.

I'm still getting over Kronos taking my favorite Partch piece, Barstow, and stringifying it on Howl, USA, but in all honesty Kronos does justice to Partch. It shouldn't seem too suprising--Kronos has made their reputation by doing string quartet work that doesn't always sounds like string quartet. Since they've reinvented the string quartet, it would seem feasible that they could reinvent Partch FOR string quartet.

I'm not wholly buying into it yet, but I also know that far worse could have been done to Partch in this recording, so I credit Kronos for the efforts they took to keep the spirit of the original composition alive. A central connection here seems to be the common desire to make truly American music that doesn't just glom off of European traditions. In doing this, Partch set to music notes of his own hobo trip, to put American experience to music. Though Kronos will always in the end sound a little too polished for the raw nature of Partch's work, I thank them for keeping his name relevant in contemporary music.

Thank you, Kronos.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A Rebuttal and Praise 5 Jan 2007
By Greg Wadsworth - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
There have been comments and concerns with this CD in saying that it may not be in keeping with the original composition. What has been egregiously overlooked in previous complaints is the simple fact that Harry Partch was never actually in keeping with his OWN original compositions. Though most people think of an ensemble of Harry Partch instruments and performers as the true rendition of this piece, it must be realized that it first came out simply for microtonal guitar and voice--Harry traveled around to colleges and did solo performances of it! It then took on several various iterations, expanding up to, at one point, ten individual performers. Harry Partch was constantly reworking this piece, and, had he never died, would probably still be rearranging it. This particular arrangement was a commission written specifically for the Kronos Quartet, and was arranged by a former protege of Partch's. It remains as true as possible to Partch's original notes, styles and intentions. Seeing how faithfully this has been converted to string quartet is truly inspiring.

The Kronos Quartet does an absolutely incredible job managing all of the subtleties of this work. Microtonality is not easy!

I highly highly recommend this CD.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Wagons West! Boxcars East! 24 July 2011
By Giordano Bruno - Published on
Format: Audio CD
What do Daniel Boone and Harry Partch have in common? Or should I ask, what did the first generation of Latter Day Saints share with the "Beat Generation" -- `beat' being curt for `beatific' -- as portrayed in Jack Kerouac's On The Road?

The Greek hero Odysseus had an unswerving purpose: to Get Home, against all perils and the hostility of the Gods, above all despite Fate. Of course, the lesson of Homer's poetry was that Fate can't be spited. Americans have never believed in Fate, except as something to be spited. And Getting Home has always been secondary in their minds to Leaving!

"Leaving" is the poetic and musical burden of Harry Partch's 1943 performance piece "U.S. Highball: a Musical Account of Slim's Transcontinental Hobo Trip". In fact, the word `leaving' recurs in every scene of the piece, as both incipit and coda. I stress that this is a `performance piece', best heard in person in a grotty loft rather than in a posh concert hall or on a CD. I heard this performance by the Kronos Quartet live, years ago, and found it potently evocative. A CD is too settled and finished for such a text and such music.

Partch's music is unsettling on purpose. His use of microtones and his bizarre hand-made instruments want to unsettle your ears. Wild flowers grow most profusely in the unsettled strips of land along highways; North American trees can only sprout as seedlings in the unsettled earth after a fire. It turns out, in both literature and history, that "America" isn't the epic of settlement and homesteading; it's the serial drama of Leaving Home. Homesteaders didn't stay home after all; they got title, sold out to the next wave of home-fleeing Easterners or Europeans, and moved west ASAP. Daniel Boone really was the Father of His Country; Goerge Washington was merely the legal guardian.

But this recording is not really Partch's baby. It's an adapted/adopted orphan, sent to conservatory and given some manners. Partch's original "U.S. Highball" required Partch's own instrumentarium and involved the voices of several actors. The Kronos Quartet does a splendid job of abstracting Partch's musical thought, doing something like reducing an opera by Berg to a piano fantasy. Likewise, actor David Barron does a creditable synopsis of Partch's hobo-poetry text. The result is interesting but a tad museum-like.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A Soundtrack For Political Turbulence 15 Dec 2008
By L. Lasko - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This album is amazing. It is especially timely. It is best to listen to this while you are alone in your room, archiving international/domestic news propaganda.
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