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Xenakis: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1 Import

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Audio CD, Import, November 21, 2000
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Product Details

  • Performer: Spyros Sakkas
  • Orchestra: Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Arturo Tamayo
  • Composer: Iannis Xenakis
  • Audio CD (November 21, 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Timpani
  • ASIN: B0000521XC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,060,205 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Aïs, for amplified baritone, solo percussion & orchestra
2. Tracées, for 94 musicians
3. Empreintes, for 85 musicians
4. Noomena, for 103 musicians
5. Roáï, for 90 musicians

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Dizaner on July 22, 2001
Iannis Xenakis died in February this year (2001), and has left behind an enourmous amount of music (not all of it top-notch), much of which has so far never been recorded (and Xenakis isn't really a favourite for symphony programmers either) so this important new disc is most welcome.
It forms volume one of a Xenakis orchestral cycle, and it augurs well. Those new to Xenakis's orchestral work should still begin with the recent Col Legno release which contains the first [1955] and best (according to Xenakis) performance of the seminal "Metastasis". That disc is an essential part of anyone's Xenakis discography anyway and this, I think, will become one too.
Arturo Tamayo is an experienced conductor of new music (he studied under Boulez) and is also responible for the recording of Richard Barrett's outstanding orchestral work "Vanity" on the NMC label (anyone interested in Xenakis should also investigate this Barrett disc). Likewise the Luxembourg Philharmonic acquit themselves well, seeming relatively at ease with this difficult music, but never lacking passion or precision.
The first piece, "Ais", is a dramatic work for Baritone (singing a lot of falsetto), percussion, and orchestra. The texts (given in the booklet) are from the Iliad, Odyssey, and from a fragment of Sappho's poetry. It is disturbing and uncomfortable, but exhilirating nonetheless. The baritone Spyros Sakkas, a long time collaborator with Xenakis, is secure and definitive in this difficult music.
The other four works, all for largish orchestras, explore and interrogate the sound-world in Xenakian fashion. There is no real way or need for me to explain the works - they speak for themselves.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Forbes on October 9, 2002
I have to agree with the other reviewers here...this is a welcome release indeed. Tamayo's account of these Xenakis works is firm and authoritative in a notoriously difficult repertoire. And the disc is devoted to lesser known works from the 70s and 80's, all of them revelations.
For me, the most impressive piece is Ais, for baritone, percussion and orchestra. This work is terrifying in it's intensity. The vocal line is almost incantory. Much is in falsetto or in a deep grunt. What amazes me most on this is the balance. On of the biggest complaints that has been raised legitimately against Xenakis is that he really doesn't know how to balance instrumental forces. Tamayo handles this extremely well, with the help of some brilliant engineering. The baritone falsetto is always audible, no matter how loud and agressive the percussion or brass interjections.
The rest of the disc is equally well played. Each work is fascinating. Xenakis had a genius for interesting texture and color in the orchestra, even if some of his basic balances are off. With music this original, you forgive some technical lapses, and in the hands of sensative musicians, the point becomes moot.
The second volume looks equally interesting. I am looking forward to picking it up soon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Culver TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 29, 2009
Timpani Records' series of discs collecting Iannis Xenakis' orchestral works is one of the major triumphs of contemporary music, and it's a pity that it remains fairly little-known. Xenakis produced a lot of works for orchestra. Not all are of the highest quality, and from this disc, for instance, anyone expecting sounds as mindblowing as "Metastasis" or "Jonchaies" may be disappointed. I'm also worried about the reliability of these performances, as so many of Xenakis' pieces are not playable even by super-virtuosi without some compromises made with the score. The Luxembourg Philharmonic isn't exactly known for its modernist prowess. Nonetheless, all of Xenakis' pieces do reflect a remarkable musical vision, mixing as they do modernist technique with philosophies out of Ancient Greece.

"Aïs" for baritone and orchestra (1980) has Spyros Sakkas singing falsetto glissandi above block-like orchestral textures, with an rhythmically infectious timpani line and bold brass. The atmosphere is ritual-like, and the whole production does seem to validate Xenakis' claim that he sought to continue concerns of Ancient Greece. It's appalling that Xenakis is often assumed to always be some kind of noisy modernist when a work like "Aïs" isn't far from the audience-friendly East-meets-West of Tan Dun. "Roai" for 90 players (1991) is a rather typical late Xenakis piece, when he had moved away from the variety of his mature career to a series of vertical blocks glacially moving in fairly mundane rhythms. Now, I'm often critical of these late works, but "Roai" and "Aïs" provide the most memorable listening on the disc. For all Xenakis' abandonment of a certain randomness, he nonetheless won for himself an elegance here that more than compensates.
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