MERCURY LP SRI-75116: McPHEE - Tabuh Tabuhan - HANSON, 1970s TAS
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Background on this item -
Colin McPhee (b Montreal, 15 March 1900; d Los Angeles, 7 Jan 1964).

McPhee was a distinctive and imaginative composer, ethnomusicologist, pianist, and writer, most noted for absorbing the sounds of Balinese music into his own compositions. He came to the U.S. to study at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, where his composition teacher was Gustav Strube (1867-1953). He returned to Canada to study piano with Arthur Friedheim in Toronto. The Toronto Symphony gave his First Piano Concerto a world premiere in 1924. He left Toronto for Paris to study piano with Isidore Philipp, and composition with Paul Le Flem.

Even McPhee's early music has a marked tendency to use layers of ostinati. When he first heard cylinder recordings of Balinese music he was entranced. He married Jane Belo, an anthropologist (and graduate student of Margaret Mead). They traveled to Bali, where Jane built a home in the hill country. McPhee vigorously notated the melodies and rhythmic devices of every gamelan he heard. He is credited with saving a number of gamelans that were likely to go out of existence, and of resurrecting some older instruments and styles. The couple adopted a child, Samphi, who later became a member of a Balinese dance troupe that toured the United States.

He worked for the rest of his life on a serious study, Music in Bali, which was published posthumously in 1966. He also wrote transcriptions for Western instruments, and original compositions full of the sound, melodies, and rhythms of gamelan music. The most famous of these, Tabuh-Tabuhan, for orchestra, was premiered during a trip he made in the summer of 1936 to Mexico, conducted by Carlos Chávez.

McPhee and his wife sold their house, left Bali, and divorced in 1939. In the early 1940s McPhee lived in a large brownstone in Brooklyn, shared with other artists and literary figures such as Leonard Bernstein and Benjamin Britten among many others. McPhee, Britten, and Bernstein are said to have fought all the time over who got to play the grand piano. Britten and McPhee participated in the first recording of McPhee's Balinese Ceremonial Music for two pianos and flute in 1941. The strain of Balinese sounds that runs through Britten's music clearly originated with McPhee.

In the later 1940s, McPhee, lonely for his beloved Bali, slipped into an alcohol-deepened depression, and his output drastically declined. He pulled himself out of the depths and produced new compositions in the 1950s. In 1958 he was appointed professor of  ethnomusicology at UCLA, and he became an esteemed jazz critic.

Howard Hanson's recording of Tabuh-Tabuhan on the now legendary Mercury Living Presence disc of 1956 excited many music lovers and caught the ears of young American composers. Within a decade, some of them had taken the idea of layers of repeated ostinati that marks the music of McPhee and Bali, and from it created American minimalism. ~ Joseph Stevenson, Rovi

Composer Note:

Tabuh-Tabuhan was composed in Mexico in 1936, and performed before the ink was barely dry by Carlos Chavez and the National Orchestra of Mexico City. It was written after I had already spent four years in Bali engaged in musical research, and is largely inspired, especially in its orchestration, by the various methods I had learned of Balinese gamelan technic. The title of the work derives from the Baliness word tabuh, originally meaning the mallet used for striking a percussion instrument, but extended to mean strike or beat - the drum, a gong xylophone or metallophone. Tabuh-Tabuhan is thus a Balinese collective noun, meaning different drum rhythms, metric forms, gong punctuations, gamelans, and music essentially percussive.

Although Tabuh-Tabuhan makes much use of Balinese musical material. I consider it a purely personal work in which Balinese and composed motifs, melodies and rhythms have been fused to a symphonic work. Balinese music never rises to an emotional climax, but at the same time has a terrific rhythmic drive and symphonic surge, and this partly influenced me in planning the form of the work. Many of the syncopated rhythms of Balinese music have a close affinity with those of Latin American popular music and American jazz - a history in itself - these have formed the basic impulse of the work from start to finish.

To transfer the intricate chime-like polyphonic figuration of the gamelan keyed instruments and gong-chimes, I have used a 'nuclear gamelan' composed of two pianos, celesta, xylophone, marimba and glockenspiel. These form the core of the orchestra.

In form, Tabuh-Tabuhan is more or less that of the classical symphony- there being three movements, Ostinatos, Nocturne, and Finale. There is no place here to point out all the purely Baliness motifs. The flute melody in the Nocturne is an entirely Baliness flute melody, taken down as played. The syncopated finale is based on the gay music of a xylophone orchestra which accompanies a popular street dance. This is heard in its most authentic form at the beginning of the work and given the grand treatment at the end. -- Colin McPhee

MERCURY GOLDEN IMPORT Records LP item - BLUE record labels with SILVER lettering - see  pictures for detail
Pressing is in STEREO
Record Speed: 33 1/3 rpm
Record Made in the 1970s - this reissue is of the famous and very expensive Mercury Stereo LP from 1956
Record Catalog Number: SRI 75116
TAS LIST / HP LIST Superdisc LP - fantastic sound

This listing is for a very rare, out of print LP featuring the music of -


Performers on this LP include -
Howard Hanson, conducting the Eastman Rochester Orchestra (McPhee)
Antal Dorati conducting the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra (Schuller & Bloch)

LP Title -
McPHEE / BLOCH / SCHULLER - Hanson & Dorati

Track listings -
1. Colin McPhee: Tabuh-Tabuhan (Toccata for Orchestra)
2. Gunther Schuller: Seven Studies on Themes of Paul Klee
3. Ernest Bloch: Sinfonia Breve

The LP jacket is in Near Mint minus condition! - superb condition given it's age!!
The jacket is completely intact with NO SEAM SPLITS! The jacket shows some very mild shelf wear, primarily weakening at the corners and seams. Have a close look at the pictures and you will better see what we are referring to.
The jacket has NO drill holes or saw marks of any kind.
There is NO hand writing on the front or back of the jacket, just a sticker on the back.
The cover has clean and sharp colors, just a bit of fading/staining due to age - see pictures with this listing for more detail.

The LP (vinyl) itself:
The LP is in NEAR MINT minus condition. - A finer copy of this vintage LP would be very difficult to find.
The LP retains much of the original gloss and sheen - just has a bit of dust on it!
The record has NO serious marks on it, obviously well taken care of.
The record labels have NO significant spindle marks on them - just a couple of light ones.
This is the superb copy you have always wanted in your collection - any super picky audiophiles should be happy with this one!
This LP may have some light marks (spider marks mostly) which are caused by sliding the LP in and out of the inner sleeve and are usually not audible on most audio systems.

Please understand that this is a vintage LP record - as such, one cannot expect the vinyl to sound like a brand new, audiophile pressing! Some noise is inevitable - for best results, always properly clean your LPs before playing them.

The LP is an audiophile quality pressing (any collector of fine MFSL, half speeds, direct to discs, Japanese/UK pressings etc., can attest to the difference a quality pressing can make to an audio system).

A Short Note About LP GRADING -
Mint {M} = Only used for sealed items.
Near Mint {NM} = Virtually flawless in every way.
Near Mint Minus {NM-} = Item has some minor imperfections, some audible.
Excellent {EXC} = Item obviously played and enjoyed with some noise.
Very Good Plus {VG+} = Many more imperfections which are noticeable and obtrusive.

Don't let this rarity slip by!!!

  • Item #: Mercury LP SRI 75116 NM
  • Manufacturer: Mercury Records
  • Condition: Used

MERCURY LP SRI-75116: McPHEE - Tabuh Tabuhan - HANSON, 1970s TAS

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