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  • Xenakis: Chamber Music, 1955-1990
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Xenakis: Chamber Music, 1955-1990 Import


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Audio CD, Import, November 14, 2000
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Product Details

  • Performer: Arditti String Quartet, Claude Helffer
  • Composer: Iannis Xenakis
  • Audio CD (November 14, 2000)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Auvidis / Naive / Montaigne
  • ASIN: B00004WKJM
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #546,397 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Tetras - Arditti Str Qt
2. Mists - Claude Helffer
3. Kottos - Irvine Arditti
4. Herma - Claude Helffer
5. Embellie - Garth Knox
6. A R. - Claude Helffer
7. Mikka - Irvine Arditti/David Alberman
8. Mikka 'S' - Irvine Arditti/David Alberman
9. Akea - Arditti String Quartet/Claude Helffer
Disc: 2
1. Dikhthas - Irvine Arditti/Claude Helffer
2. Tetora - Arditti String Quartet
3. Nomos Alpha - Rohan De Saram
4. Ikhoor - Irvine Arditti/Garth Knox/Rohan De Saram
5. Evryali - Claude Helffer
6. St/4-1,080262 - Arditti String Quartet

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Ben Opie on December 26, 2002
Format: Audio CD
There's something which really arises in listening to this double CD set, and that is Xenakis as the "romantic soul." That is NOT to say someone gushing, overflowing with emotions; what I mean is, Xenakis is in some ways the solitary visionary, working arduously to draw out and elicit the strongest forms of expression possible in his art form.
The music is anything but "romantic" in nearly every sense of the word however. It is severe, strident, harsh, sometimes highly calculated, and always very demanding of listener and player alike.
Perhaps the best word, albeit overused, is "intense." His music is charged with intensity and tension. However, inside of this sound-world, there is a sort of beauty that arises. It's beauty entirely on Xenakis' own terms.
So who better to tackle this music than Arditti? No disrespect to groups such as Kronos, Flux, Cuarteto Latinoamericano, but Arditti is tops for modern repertoire performance, and one of the all-time great performing ensembles. They play this extremely difficult music with great musicality. I won't say they make it sound easy, that's probably not possible. But they do sound as if they understand Xenakis' music and love it.
If you've read this far, I imagine you have some idea whether or not you are interested in Xenakis. If you are, this may be the single best recorded set of performances of his music, and is a landmark in 20th century composition and performance.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Culver TOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 19, 2009
Format: Audio CD
A lot of people come to Iannis Xenakis' music through big orchestral pieces like "Metastasis" or "Jonchaies". The composer nonetheless wrote an enormous amount of music for piano, solo strings, and string quartets and quintets. This Naive disc, a 2000 reissue of an early 1990s Montaigne release, presents these small-scale pieces in performance by the Arditti Quartet (here Irvine Arditti, David Alberman, Garth Knox, and Rohan de Saram) and pianist Claude Helffer.

"Evryali" for piano (1973) might be the best way into the collection. Its bouncy rhythms and fairly tame harmonies are immediately appealing. Its virtuoso demands increase steadily until the climax when left and right hands seem in completely different worlds entirely. It is "modernist" and "angular", but also joyful and engaging. Much the same can be said for the short "A r. (Hommage a Ravel)" for piano (1987), with its lovely ascending and descending runs punctuated by chords, and the long "Mists" for piano (1981) delights in music of separate thick strands, creating lovely clouds of sound. On the other hand, "Herma" for piano (1962) belong to Xenakis' early period of bleep-bloopy stochastic music.

Then there are the solo string works, which are relatively straightfoward. In "Mikka" and "Mikka 'S'" for violin (1971-1976), the performer plays a musical line consisting only of glissandi. In "Embellie" for viola (1981) Xenakis celebrates the rich colours inherent in this instrument, making a very pleasurable contribution to the viola golden age we're living in (it accompanies well the solo viola works of Ligeti, Grisey and Murail). Most striking here will be the allusions to the classical tradition, with the performer at more than one point seeming to channel Bach's sonatas for solo violin.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Autonomeus on May 14, 2013
Format: Audio CD
This is by now a classic set of chamber music by Iannis Xenakis (1922-2001), best known for his massive orchestral and electronic works. I was disappointed when I first heard it because I expected to find more string quartets. As it happens, Xenakis did not work that much in the string quartet form, and of his four quartets only "Tetras" is among his masterpieces.

THE MUSIC
Taking this set, recorded in 1991 at WDR Koln and Radio France, as a survey of his chamber music, I can't give it less than five stars. Claude Helffer on piano, born the same year as the composer and so 69 years old when he performed these notoriously difficult works, and the Arditti Quartet play marvelously. Irvine Arditti and David Alberman play violin, and I assume Arditti plays the solo violin pieces and the violin & piano duet though the liner notes do not specify. Garth Knox plays viola, and the great Rohan de Saram plays cello.

The earliest quartet, "ST/4" (1956-62 -- 12'56), was not written as a quartet at all. ST stands for "stochastic music," and Xenakis developed algorithms in the late Fifties to generate music from probabilities. ST/4 was extracted from the larger piece ST/10 (there was also an ST/48), and used for a string quartet which was finalized in 1962. The resulting quartet is fascinating -- pointillistic, with lots of space and extended techniques, as well as incredibly dense passages, the level of density resulting from the algorithm. I do not consider this piece one of Xenakis's masterworks, but it is fascinating and compelling.

"Tetras" (1983 -- 17'33) is one of Xenakis's absolute masterpieces, and one of the greatest string quartets of the late 20th century.
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