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Scelsi Orchestral Works

Volume 2: The Orchestral Works 1

Hymnos (1963) for organ & 2 orchestras ; Hurqualia (1960) for large orchestra; Konx-Om-Pax (1968) for large orchestra & chorus

6 Canti del Capricorno (1962-72)

The Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic & Concert Choir/Juan Pablo Izquierdo

Pauline Vaillancourt, soprano & Douglas Ahlstedt, tenor

Mode 95

Giacinto Scelsi (1905-88) has been important in my musical life since I published one of the first UK articles about this unque and elusive composer. Subsequently I met him at London's Almeida Festival and visited him twice in Rome.

It is good that Mode's American recordings of some of his most important works have been re-pressed and are now available again.

This volume includes his major works on a large scale; their historic ISCM performances in Cologne 1987 [L] made for the breakthrough in his recognition as a key figure of 20 C music, though an eccentric one.

I have long treasured the early Scelsi recordings (Accord); these of the orchestral music are different and highly acceptable. [See reviews on Mode's website; the recommendation by Grant C. Covel in La Folia (2002) is particularly illuminating, going into detail about why "no two recordings of Scelsi's orchestral music sound the same".]

I heard Scelsi's collaborator Michiko Hirayama sing his Canti del Capricorno and have her LP (a CD is available from Amazon) and prefer it to the selections here which are interspersed amongst the orchestral works. Scelsi is addictive; because of inherent notational problems, no two recordings are the same and connoisseurs collect them...

This from Mode can be recommended unreservedly.

Peter Grahame Woolf


Volume 6: The Orchestral Works 2

Quattro Pezzi (su una nota sola)
Uaxuctum [Peter Rundel, conductor]
La nascita del Verbo [First Recording; Johannes Kalitzke, conductor]
Wiener Kammerchor/Michael Grohotolsky & Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra

Mode 176 Surround Sound DVD

This important DVD, newly received, has been enjoyed on new Surround Sound equipment, and it is a magnificent sequel to the earlier recordings on Accord, and the historic Munich concert (which Scelsi was able to attend shortly before his death) of which I was sent a tape recording [See Todd McComb's Scelsi discography].

It is hard now to recapture the astonshing impact of the Pieces on One Note when they were new, but they remain an important landmark in Scelsi's exploration of sound per se and an effective concert piece.

The others here are major orchestral and choral works, composed before and after the composer's serious breakdown during which, as he repeated to me at our meeting, he aided his recovery by playing a single note on the piano interminably - that in turn leading him back to composing the Quattro Pezzi.

See several full reviews collected on Mode's website: e.g. - - these DVD-Audio recordings possess the best clarity around, vastly superior to Hans Zender's Quattro Pezzi on cpo 999 485-2 or even Jürg Wyttenbach's classic yet overly reverberant Quattro Pezzi and Uaxuctum on Accord 200612.


See also reviews of Mode Scelsi edition Vols 3 (piano) & 7 (double bass)