Composer: Iannis Xenakis
Performer: Siegfried Palm, Hans Deinzer
Orchestra: SWF Symphony Orchestra, Les Jeunes Solistes, Nouvel Orchestre Philharmonique
Conductor: Michael Gielen, Rachid Safir, Hans Rosbaud, Kwamé Ryan, Gilbert Amy
Number of Discs: 1
Format: APE (image+cue)
Label: Col Legno
Size: 312 MB
1 Ata (1987), Pour 89 Musiciens
2 N’Shima (1975), Pour Deux Mezzo-Sopranos Et Cinq Musiciens
3 Metastaseis (1953 – 54), Pour 60 Musiciens
4 Ioolkos (1996), For Large Orchestra
5 Charisma (1971), Pour Clarinette Et Violoncelle
6 Jonchaies (1977), Pour 109 Musiciens
Awesome, forbidding pinnacles of the 20th century avant-garde
This is THE Xenakis disc for anyone who doubts his importance in the history of composition! Contained on this Col Legno collection is the original 1955 recording of “Metastaseis,” perhaps Xenakis’ single most important work. Using the Fibonacci series, it is based on the same fundamental calculations as the majestic pavilion for the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels that Xenakis designed for Le Corbusier. Only 8 minutes long, “Metastaseis,” with its glissandos and clusters, illuminated explosively the terrain first glimpsed in the raw dissonance of Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” and Varese’s spatial, rhythmic soundscapes. Included here are 3 more brilliant orchestral pieces, “Jonchaies” (1977), “Ata” (1987) and “Ioolkos” (1996). Also included are 2 chamber pieces, and while giving a fuller picture of Xenakis’ music, it is the orchestral works which make this disc absolutely brilliant and essential.
From the mid-50s on, Xenakis pursued his own path — paradoxically complex and direct, fiercely confrontational music that captured and speaks of the intensity of the 20th century. While obscure in the U.S., Xenakis is recognized in Europe as one of the leading composers of his time. While I have heard some small ensemble works that I thought were mediocre, I would say his orchestral works, along with those of Ligeti and Carter, are the most radical, distinctive, and characteristic of the late 20th century.
If you are seeking out Xenakis on the basis of his reputation as a pioneer of electronic music, there is no use of electronics on this disc. However, be aware that Xenakis creates sounds you may have thought impossible with a standard orchestra!