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Xenakis Alpha & Omega

CD1: Metastasis, Diamorphoses, Concret PH, Analogique A et B, Orient –Occident, Morsima-Amorsima, Nomos Alpha, Anaktoria
CD2 : Nuits, Persephassa, Synaphaï, Aroura
CD3: Antikhthon, Persepolis
CD4: Charisma, Mikka/Mikka “s”, Mists, Keren, Keqrops, Oophaa, O-Mega

Accord: 4804904 (4CDs)

For Xenakis enthusiasts this is a convenient compilation of historic early recordings (1950s-1990s), all of good quality, and reminding us of famous pioneering artists of the time: Siegfried Palm, Octuor de Paris (they gave 150 performances of Anaktoria !), Les Percussions de Strasbourg, Geoffrey Douglas Madge, Claude Helffler, Roger Woodward, Elisabeth Chojnacka et al.

Listeners will have varying perspectives; I'm least interested in the tape compositions and in the daunting theoretical background of this one-time architect. But the variety of (then) new sounds he invented has had enduring effect upon composers since; a sound revolution, like it or not...

My own preferences have included Nomos Alpha for solo cello, Aroura for 12 strings, Persephassa for six percussionists. This boxed set should certainly find a place on college/conservatory contemporary music library shelves.

Xenakis Edition Volume 10 - Complete String Quartets

ST-4/1,080262 (1956-62) (12:56)
Tetras (1983) (17:33)
Tetora (1990) (13:41)
Ergma (1994) (8:30)

The Jack Quartet

mode DVD 209

But for the ordinary enthusiast, consider first a sensational DVD of Xenakis String Quartets complete (the CD has been reviewed at http://www.musicalpointers.co.uk/reviews/cddvd11/Xenakis-quartetsKurt%C3%A1g-forviola.html.) This music is very physical, and the DVD version is definitely to be preferred.

ST-4/1 is a computer generated score, which will hold its clues from non-mathematicians... Tetras is perhaps the most attractive, with unison playing featuring prominent double-stop glissandi, percussive noise effects etc. Tetora has none of those Xenakis hallmark glissandi; instead it features his "sieve" treatment, all in "steely non-vibrato"...

Tim Chu's extremely imaginative filming adds another dimension to the experience, and was far preferable to the live performances by the Jacks in the incongruous Wigmore Hall last month.

Peter Grahame Woolf