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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Successful Xenakis archaeology, May 7, 2009
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Autonomeus (a world ruled by fossil fuels and fossil minds) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mv 06 Anastenaria (Audio CD)
MUSICA VIVA 06 is another excellent release from the German Col Legno label, which specializes in the avant-garde. This disc includes three live performances -- the original 1981 recording of "Ais," featuring the incredible baritone voice of Spyros Sakkas, a new recording of "Troorkh," a trombone concerto, from 2000, and (drumroll please...) the world premiere of "Anastenaria," also from 2000, with the inimitable Xenakis champion Charles Bornstein conducting.

As it turns out, "Metastaseis," Xenakis's famous work which had its first performance (and recording) in October of 1955 was originally conceived as the conclusion of a triptych. However, "Metastaseis" represented such a radical departure from the preceding parts that Xenakis quickly moved to further develop the new direction, which he came to call "stochastic music," and left the earlier two parts behind. He never did look back, but now Bornstein has rescued the entire "Anastenaria" cycle. It is masterfully done, but I admit to feeling let down -- Xenakis was right, it's "Metastaseis" that is truly amazing. Part 1 features vocals, and Part II is orchestral. Apparently Part II, "Le Sacrifice," shows Xenakis working with serialism, but as he developed his own stochastic language, he left serialism behind.

In its own right this is a fine Xenakis disc. "Troorkh" with Mike Svoboda is outstanding. However, I have heard other recordings of both "Ais" and "Metastaseis" -- what of these? Sakkas recently recorded "Ais" again with Arturo Tamayo on the Timpani label -- it's the opening track on Xenakis: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1. His voice seems to be much weaker 20 years later, or he had an off night. This original recording is much, much better. The orchestra is stronger and more decisive as well. The first public performance of "Metastaseis" in 1955 was captured live, and is included on the Col Legno Collage disc of Xenakis, Xenakis: Orchestral Works & Chamber Music (Collage #4) (see my review). I read somewhere that Xenakis thought this performance, with Hans Rosbaud and the SWR Symphonieorchester, was never matched. Based on the three performances I've heard, I have to agree.

"Metastaseis" opens with an eerie rising glissando from the strings -- it rises in pitch and intensity to a climax, followed by a pause, and then the strings begin sawing madly at double fortissimo. In the Rosbaud version, the climax before the pause builds up incredible tension, which is maintained throughout. In Bornstein's version, this opening simply misses the tension and so does not unleash the rest of the work with the same intensity. I would say that of the two Col Legno discs, "Orchestral Works" (Collage #4) is still the best introduction to Xenakis.

In conclusion, my regards to Charles Bornstein for his dedication and his archaeological work, and thanks to Col Legno and all its supporters for making this music available.

(verified purchase from a large brick-and-mortar bookstore)
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Feeling Short Changed: MORE Xenakis Please!!!, May 16, 2012
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This review is from: Mv 06 Anastenaria (Audio CD)
This version of 'Metastaseis' IS pretty underwhelming, though it boasts a pretty good recording. The Tamayo is the one to get now, trust me, it is absolutely in a class of its own. This one is good for a digital compare, nothing more (ok, it's not THAT bad, but competition is stiff). The other two pieces in the 'Anastenaria' are relatively interesting, sounding very ritualistic,... one can hear a few Xenakis concerns already. Otherwise, the Rosbaud recording is pretty tight: even that one has to bow to the Tamayo though.

This 'Ais' is the one to have, surpassing others on Timpani and Neuma (sic?). At first, one has to acclimate oneself to the Xenakis vocal tradition, but, the music is very attractive (to a Xenakian), throwing a whole lot at the listener. Remember, this is also a percussion concerto! Boy did I hate this piece when I first heard it, haha!

'Troorkh' here is only slightly less perfect than the Lindberg on BIS. Svoboda acquits himself just fine, though Lindberg does a few things Svoboda doesn't. I think Rundel is conductor for both recordings. The orchestras sound about equal. 'Troorkh' is one of Xenakis's most pacific works, very 'early evening'; the Xenakis trombone sound is very much like a dull laser, piercing the orchestral texture. Also, this piece makes listening to the maddening violin concerto 'DOX-ORKH' easier to take.

Once again, I SURE WISH someone would give us some MORE Xenakis!! I take off 1 Star for not giving us a 'Premiere' (or the LP/Erato recording of 'Nekuia'). This is not the most essential Xenakis ever, but, knowing us Xenakis fans, you will end up getting this sooner or later. Cheers!
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Mv 06 Anastenaria
Mv 06 Anastenaria by Iannis Xenakis (Audio CD - 2008)
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