Delusion of the Fury, Ruhrtriennale, Bochum, Germany – review
Performed on reconstructed instruments, Harry Partch’s work abandons conventional tonality ****
"It is the vision of Heiner Goebbels, composer, intendant of the Ruhrtriennale and stage director of this production, that made it possible to tip the continental establishment into supporting Partch’s maverick work."
"Goebbels’ staging – much aided by Klaus Grünberg’s evocative lighting and an abstract set in which the instruments themselves are the central element – retains the atmosphere of endearing naivety that characterises surviving film footage of Partch’s performances. It is psychedelic, sweet and slightly hokey, like a reconstruction of a 1960s happening without the drugs, which is, in a sense, exactly what this is.
Partch wanted to overturn the entire musical establishment. He described himself as “a philosophic music-man seduced into carpentry”, and he made some exquisite objects, beautiful to look at and intriguing to hear. In embracing such an oddity, the Ruhrtriennale, unlike its more glamorous fellow festivals, is taking its artistic mandate seriously."
The production goes on to the Holland Festival and the Lincoln Festival in New York, and the legacy is a reconstructed set of Partch instruments that could bring the maverick music-man’s multi-tonal message to the masses, or at least provide a different view of tonality. And some moments of pure, childish delight.
Financial Times (GB), 3 September 2013