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Xenakis Electronic Music Vols. 1 & 2.

La Légende d'eer, Polytope de Cluny, Hibiki Hdana Ma, Ne-gale for Vasarely
+ 60-minute Xenakis interview with Harry Halbreich

Mode Records DVD 148 & 203

Iannis Xenakis (1922-2001) was never interested to combine electronics with live instrumental music making, he explains to Harry Halbreich in a Master Class filmed in Paris, 1995.

This hour-long interview was, for me, the most absorbing part of a compilation of historic events in the 1960s/1970s which had been experienced by vast audiences. The wide ranging conversation, in which both participants converse in English (neither's native language) are virtually unedited, and the seeking for the right words to express difficult ideas makes for moving viewing - especially since our last experience of Xenakis was a sad one, being interviewed in Huddersfield by Richard Steinitz (probably 1997) by which time he had ceased composing because of severe memory loss.

Mode Records has re-assembled and improved recordings and films of Xenakis' electronic music. Withdrawn later by the composer, the early (c.1960) score of Ne-gale for piccolo, horn, cello and "bongo with drumstick" is accompanied here by black & white images of Vasarely's pictures. La Légende d'eer is reproduced from tapes given at the Diatope in 1978, accompanied here with some 350 slides of the event and the structure in which it was held. Hibiki Hdana Ma took an orchestral composition into "unprecedented technical possibilities" and was experienced by many thousands at the 1970 World’s Fair in Osaka.

The Polytope at Cluny involved mirrors and lasers, automated with computers to accompany music on seven tape tracks, the public lying on the floor and becoming part of the spectacle.

I hope this brief welcome for a unique production (as are so many from Mode Records) may be augmented by other Musical Pointers reviewers more comfortable with electronic music.

The whole is presented imaginatively by Brian Brandt in a sequence which draws you into this world of excesses from the recent past, and it is recommended to purchase both in their (optional) DVD form.

Peter Grahame Woolf