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Xenakis: Orchestral Works & Chamber Music [Import]

Iannis Xenakis , Safir , Swf So Baden-Baden , Rosbaud Audio CD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Performer: Iannis Xenakis, Safir, Swf So Baden-Baden, Rosbaud
  • Audio CD (April 15, 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Col Legno
  • ASIN: B00004SZVO
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #665,610 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Ata, for 89 musicians
2. N'Shima, for 2 amplified voices, 2 amplified French horns, 2 tenor trombones & amplified cello
3. Metastasis, for 60 musicians (Anastenaria, Part 3)
4. Ioolkos, for 89 musicians
5. Charisma, for clarinet & cello
6. Jonchaies, for 109 musicians

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary Stuff August 2, 2000
By A Customer
This disc is a wonderful place to start one's Xenakis collection. It contains an enormous range of his orchestral, chamber and vocal music, ranging from the seminal 'Metastasis' to the much more recent 'Ioolkos' and then on to the explosive orchestral showpiece 'Jonchaies'. The last-named piece is is the perfect rebuttal of the common view that Xenakis is a 'difficult' composer. His music is not for the faint-hearted, certainly, largely because of its blisteringly passionate nature, but its message is always transmitted with enormous directness. In the case of many of the pieces on this disc, there is also a great amount of sheer beauty present. All one has to do is open one's ears, and the sounds literally force their way in!!! The performers are among the finest in this repertoire, and the performances are as good as you would expect.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
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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!

[This disc has now been reissued as a CD-R: Xenakis: Orchestral Works & Chamber Music (Digitally Remastered).]
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE introduction to Xenakis February 11, 2007
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The Col legno label's "Orchestral works and chamber music" discs are usually overpriced and contain second-rate material. But on this collection of the music of Iannis Xenakis, we get several excellent pieces in historical performances, with surprising good sound quality.

Just for this recording of "Metastasis" alone the disc is worth for the price. This work, written for large orchestra between 1953 and 1954, was Xenakis' first mature effort. Of great proportions indeed, "Metastasis" has 61 instrumentalists playing 61 different parts. The opening is stunning, gradually each of the strings enters sustaining a single note, creating a massive wall of sound before some strings go astray via glissandi to other notes and pizzicato playing and the rest of the orchestra shows up. Closely related to the composer's design of the Couvent de la Tourette near Lyons, much of the dynamics of this first portion is based on the Fibonacci sequence, with nearly every decision in the work, from the structures of intervals to the length of dynamics and tones. The second section is more traditional, as the bulk of the orchestral forces remain silent with some strings playing a contrapuntal passage with drumrolls in the background and the occasional spotting of brass. This recording documents the world-premiere at the 1955 Donaueschinger Musiktage, where the SWF Symphony Orchestra conducted by Hans Rosbaud perform. While slightly lesser in sound-quality than the other two widely-available recordings, this one was considered to be the best by Xenakis, and even in 1950s mono sound it packs a tremendous punch.

Almost two decades passed between "Metastasis" and the next piece here. "Charisma" (1971) is written for clarinet, here Hans Deinzer, and cello, here the great Siegfried Palm.
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