The Theatre Represents A Garden by John Woolrich

A piece composed 44 years after Partch by a composer born 7 years after the first edition of “Genesis Of A New Music”. So what we have here are the thoughts of the late 20th century passed thorough the mind of one who was very young when the polemical wars of serialism vs. tonality were at their height, and who not that much older during the flowering of minimalism.

So what do we have here? What we have is Mozart. But not the Mozart we know and love, well not quite. Mozart’s melodies, rhythm and harmony all seem to be here – but then they are not. Everything is gently altered, so that listening to this piece is akin to looking at a well-known painting through a thick and slightly distorting glass. The effect is not dissimilar to the strange feeling you get when listening to Webern’s transcription of Bach’s Ricecare from “The Musical Offering” where Webern’s application of Schoenberg’s ‘klangfarbenmelodie’ technique of orchestration has the effect of yanking Bach into the mid-20th century.

The overall effect is that of distancing, of forcing one to re-evaluate the familiar. This is clearly an Abstract approach in Partchian terms, perhaps the greatest so far in that the effectiveness of this piece relies on a complex set of pre-assumptions about the listener, from a knowledge of Mozart’s music itself to an understanding of the development of music from Mozart’s day onward.

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