Author Topic: Xenakis's Xen  (Read 56306 times)

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Kullervo

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Re: Xenakis's Xen
« Reply #20 on: May 27, 2007, 12:34:53 PM »
interesting.... (that's the recording i have, too, the one with Ligeti)
ok, i was exaggerating, but it is surprising (my old library didn't even have any Ligeti either  :P )

Yeah, our library has a few interesting curios (like Vagn Holmboe chamber music, Borreson symphonies, etc)

paul

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Re: Xenakis's Xen
« Reply #21 on: May 27, 2007, 02:54:45 PM »
Now listening to Xenakis' Metastaseis (1953-54), endlessly intriguing, on a live recording by Charles Zacharie Bornstein and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (superb).  I can't imagine what listeners in the mid-1950s would have made of this score: massed high frequencies, tightly clustered pizzicatos, tremolos everywhere -- all very tense and ultimately quite exciting. 

I don't understand why his scores don't show up in the concert hall more often.  I searched Carnegie Hall's site, just for grins, and there is a single concert in March 2008 with the debut of a young percussionist, Martin Grubinger, doing Psappha and Rebond b, but otherwise, no orchestral pieces, no piano works, nothing.

--Bruce

I think that there are two reasons: the difficulty of Xenakis's music and the money that it costs to perform a piece by him. Xenakis often wrote for mixed ensembles that are difficult to put together. For example, how does one go about getting a performance done of N'Shima when the instrumentation is 2 amplified peasant voices, 2 amplified french horns, 2 tenor trombones, and amplified cello? Plus, when they are put together it'll end up costing a lot of money for the rehearsals and preparation, not to mention that most musicians probably don't want to touch anything as technically difficult as Xenakis's music. Fortunately, Xenakis wrote a large number of pieces for solo instruments which seem to be the most frequently performed works by him.

Offline matticus

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Re: Xenakis's Xen
« Reply #22 on: May 28, 2007, 10:39:58 AM »
Xenakis often wrote for mixed ensembles that are difficult to put together. For example, how does one go about getting a performance done of N'Shima when the instrumentation is 2 amplified peasant voices, 2 amplified french horns, 2 tenor trombones, and amplified cello?

I can't really agree with that; the majority of Xenakis pieces are for very traditional ensembles (lots of orchestral pieces, stuff for string orchestra, string quartets, fairly standard 'sinfonietta' pieces and many solo pieces as you say). I'm having a hard time thinking of anything else for such strange instrumentation as N'Shima.

I think the lack of performances of his work is largely due to the extreme parochialism of countries like the UK and USA and the fact that Xenakis makes very few concessions to traditionalist tastes, even compared to eg. Carter or Boulez -- despite that his music's really more "accessible" than either of those composers, more popular with people outside the traditional classical music audience, and is mostly easier to play.

greg

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Re: Xenakis's Xen
« Reply #23 on: May 28, 2007, 11:14:32 AM »
I can't really agree with that; the majority of Xenakis pieces are for very traditional ensembles (lots of orchestral pieces, stuff for string orchestra, string quartets, fairly standard 'sinfonietta' pieces and many solo pieces as you say). I'm having a hard time thinking of anything else for such strange instrumentation as N'Shima.
oh, there's a lot more chamber stuff with unusual instrumentation than that- it's actually the combination which is strange, not the actual instruments themselves

I think the lack of performances of his work is largely due to the extreme parochialism of countries like the UK and USA and the fact that Xenakis makes very few concessions to traditionalist tastes, even compared to eg. Carter or Boulez -- despite that his music's really more "accessible" than either of those composers, more popular with people outside the traditional classical music audience, and is mostly easier to play.
true

paul

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Re: Xenakis's Xen
« Reply #24 on: May 28, 2007, 12:01:52 PM »
I can't really agree with that; the majority of Xenakis pieces are for very traditional ensembles (lots of orchestral pieces, stuff for string orchestra, string quartets, fairly standard 'sinfonietta' pieces and many solo pieces as you say). I'm having a hard time thinking of anything else for such strange instrumentation as N'Shima.

Akanthos, Eonta, Nyűyô, and Stratégie are pieces I can think of right away that don't use a standard instrumentation. If I looked at a list of works, I'm sure I could find other examples of unusual ensembles of instruments. And about the orchestral works: sure, Xenakis wrote a lot of pieces for orchestra, but the orchestra seems to be rarely set up in the standard way. Two of his best known works, Metastasis and Pithroprakta, have at most two players to a part. You don't have the clear divisions of violin 1, violin 2, et cetera. But, of course there are the more standardized works for SQ and the like. I don't mean to say that Xenakis did not use these ensembles, but very often he didn't or did in ways that make them problematic for a performance at a concert.

greg

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Re: Xenakis's Xen
« Reply #25 on: May 28, 2007, 03:53:05 PM »
oh yeah, Terretektorh, a really sweet piece where the orchestra members are scattered throughout the audience- i wonder how many performances that one is gonna get?

gomro

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Re: Xenakis's Xen
« Reply #26 on: May 28, 2007, 04:31:26 PM »
oh yeah, Terretektorh, a really sweet piece where the orchestra members are scattered throughout the audience- i wonder how many performances that one is gonna get?
I'd like to hear at least one more, to compare with the Erato recording from the 60s. I was hoping the Timpani "Complete Orchestral Works" would last long enough to do that and Nomos Gamma, but looks like that hope has fallen through... Theoretically, the placement of the microphones should take the place of the listener, meaning that every recording would be quite a bit different in sound. I guarantee, for instance, that a mic right beside a string player is going to result in a different "crescendo" than a recording in which that same mic ended up beside a bassoon.

greg

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Re: Xenakis's Xen
« Reply #27 on: June 07, 2008, 03:14:04 PM »
uploaded a bunch of Xenakis files for everyone to listen to:
http://www.mediafire.com/?sharekey=dcb128f2935e13684012e8015643d9c8f2abfdea14e75549


i named it Xenakis' Xen because a lot of his music, like La Legende, Diamorphoses, Hibiki Hana Ma etc. remind me of this planet from the end of the game Half Life..... here's a few pics.
(and because it's hard to find words with an X at the beginning)




gomro

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Re: Xenakis's Xen
« Reply #28 on: June 07, 2008, 03:45:40 PM »
uploaded a bunch of Xenakis files for everyone to listen to:
http://www.mediafire.com/?sharekey=dcb128f2935e13684012e8015643d9c8f2abfdea14e75549


i named it Xenakis' Xen because a lot of his music, like La Legende, Diamorphoses, Hibiki Hana Ma etc. remind me of this planet from the end of the game Half Life..... here's a few pics.
(and because it's hard to find words with an X at the beginning)

I thought it was a play on words... you know, Zen...the Zen of Xenakis, as it were... but I don't play computer games much.

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Xenakis's Xen
« Reply #29 on: June 08, 2008, 02:57:23 AM »
Are there any other Xenakis pieces like Persepolis? I don't really like anything else I've heard by him (well, maybe Agamemnon) as there are always squeaks and bleeps which sound a bit too unmusical/weird to me... Persepolis on the other hand has a rather singular drive to it, maybe bordering on minimalism at times (and certainly sounding similar to some pop music, such as Einstürzende Neubauten).
Peanut butter, flour and sugar do not make cookies. They make FIRE.

springrite

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Re: Xenakis's Xen
« Reply #30 on: June 08, 2008, 03:20:45 AM »
Treasure!

greg

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Re: Xenakis's Xen
« Reply #31 on: June 08, 2008, 01:23:28 PM »
I thought it was a play on words... you know, Zen...the Zen of Xenakis, as it were... but I don't play computer games much.
I don't either...... but the game was on the PS2.  ;D


Are there any other Xenakis pieces like Persepolis? I don't really like anything else I've heard by him (well, maybe Agamemnon) as there are always squeaks and bleeps which sound a bit too unmusical/weird to me... Persepolis on the other hand has a rather singular drive to it, maybe bordering on minimalism at times (and certainly sounding similar to some pop music, such as Einstürzende Neubauten).
Yes...... definitely listen to La Legende d'Eer. It could almost be classified as minimalism. The whole thing is shaped like a big curve in drama. Starts with lonely little beeps and then progress through sounds into the most ecstatic trance-like techno music ever invented (with sounds that include stuff that sounds like hoses not turned off right and Mario-like video game beeps) and then levels off after time until the little beeps fade off, in a similar manner to the ending of Jonchaies.

As for Persepolis, I didn't really get that one. Listened twice a long time ago, still have it on CD but haven't listened again. I honestly thought it was too long and boring.


Treasure!
dig in, everyone!  8)
And this is just a small part of what i have....... i have over 15 CDs worth of Xenakis, so if anyone has a request, just tell me.  8)



Other favorites/recommendations:


choral music - nuits; medea etc.
This one is lacking in my collection.......
download most of these tracks a few years ago and deleted them for some reason. Probably couldn't find all the tracks or something. Or maybe it was hard drive space?



lukeottevanger

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Re: Xenakis's Xen
« Reply #32 on: June 08, 2008, 01:29:13 PM »
Yes, the Arditti set ought to be compulsory. And Tetras, Nomos Alpha and the rest ought to be on everyone's listening list.

Another awe-inspiring piece which I always mention because it's often forgotten is Synaphai; there's a very fine recording of it, but there's also a Japanese reading of it on youtube which makes the jaw drop.

And then there's X's Oresteia - an imagining of ancient Greek music which is echt-Xenakis, in its rawness and hyper-expressivity, its pushing instruments to their extremes and its return to real fundamentals, but which may surprise those who think Xenakis is just stochastic noise. It's full of melody - Xenakis could pen a tune very well, surprisingly! (For instance, I've only heard his Shaar once, and it was maybe two decades ago, but I can still remember its opening melodic line precisely!)

greg

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Re: Xenakis's Xen
« Reply #33 on: June 08, 2008, 01:54:39 PM »
And then there's X's Oresteia - an imagining of ancient Greek music which is echt-Xenakis, in its rawness and hyper-expressivity, its pushing instruments to their extremes and its return to real fundamentals, but which may surprise those who think Xenakis is just stochastic noise.
Yes, a lot of it is pretty fun stuff though some of the solo singing is ridiculous (just like in the orchestral piece, Ais, which is great with awful singing). In fact, there's a video on youtube with Oresteia..... just don't watch it.  ;D



(For instance, I've only heard his Shaar once, and it was maybe two decades ago, but I can still remember its opening melodic line precisely!)
Shaar has some fascinating writing.

two examples:
http://www.uoguelph.ca/~digimus/xenakis/pages/fig149.html

http://www.uoguelph.ca/~digimus/xenakis/pages/fig148.html

and sieves he uses which make up his melodic sound:

http://www.uoguelph.ca/~digimus/xenakis/pages/fig150.html

Offline edward

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Re: Xenakis's Xen
« Reply #34 on: June 08, 2008, 02:16:57 PM »
Yes, the Arditti set ought to be compulsory. And Tetras, Nomos Alpha and the rest ought to be on everyone's listening list.

Another awe-inspiring piece which I always mention because it's often forgotten is Synaphai; there's a very fine recording of it, but there's also a Japanese reading of it on youtube which makes the jaw drop.

And then there's X's Oresteia - an imagining of ancient Greek music which is echt-Xenakis, in its rawness and hyper-expressivity, its pushing instruments to their extremes and its return to real fundamentals, but which may surprise those who think Xenakis is just stochastic noise. It's full of melody - Xenakis could pen a tune very well, surprisingly! (For instance, I've only heard his Shaar once, and it was maybe two decades ago, but I can still remember its opening melodic line precisely!)
I think Xenakis' melodic gift is somewhat underrated: there are some beautifully austere melodies in Tetora too, for example.

Oresteia is a piece I really need to revisit--tonight, perhaps? Apparently I'm about the only person on the planet who actually likes the Kassandra insert, though I'm not sure how much of that is down to Spyros Sakkas' astonishing voice.

Another piece written for Sakkas which I think shows X's hyper-expressivity very well is Ais. Unfortunately Sakkas' voice had deteriorated by the time of the Timpani recording--but if you get hold of the Col Legno one (a valuable one as it also includes the complete Anastenaria--the end-of-apprenticeship trilogy that starts with almost Orffian choral writing and ends with Metastasis) you can hear him in his prime: just amazing.
"I don't at all mind actively disliking a piece of contemporary music, but in order to feel happy about it I must consciously understand why I dislike it. Otherwise it remains in my mind as unfinished business."
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lukeottevanger

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Re: Xenakis's Xen
« Reply #35 on: June 08, 2008, 02:24:59 PM »
I think Xenakis' melodic gift is somewhat underrated: there are some beautifully austere melodies in Tetora too, for example.

Oresteia is a piece I really need to revisit--tonight, perhaps? Apparently I'm about the only person on the planet who actually likes the Kassandra insert, though I'm not sure how much of that is down to Spyros Sakkas' astonishing voice.

No, I've grown to like it too, though when I first heard it I found it uncomfortable. I feel its inclusion in Oresteia makes the whole slightly unbalanced, but as I said on the 'What are you listening to' thread, I think that with the also-intended inclusion of La Déesse Athéne the whole thing would be both better balanced, more integrated and even more monumental.

greg

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Re: Xenakis's Xen
« Reply #36 on: June 09, 2008, 05:43:38 PM »
anyone have Tamayo's Jonchaies? Mine skips the whole time, and Corey would like a copy of that one, too. It really is better than the one I have uploaded.

Offline Brewski

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Re: Xenakis's Xen
« Reply #37 on: July 22, 2008, 10:29:14 AM »
Just when I'm complaining that no one is doing any Xenakis in New York comes the news that this fall, among many other delights, Miller Theatre is presenting his only opera, Oresteia.  The press release is here.

The dates are September 13, 16 and 17, 2008. 

--Bruce
« Last Edit: July 22, 2008, 10:32:13 AM by bhodges »
Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.
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Twitter: @brucehodgesny

greg

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Re: Xenakis's Xen
« Reply #38 on: July 22, 2008, 03:56:40 PM »
Just when I'm complaining that no one is doing any Xenakis in New York comes the news that this fall, among many other delights, Miller Theatre is presenting his only opera, Oresteia.  The press release is here.

The dates are September 13, 16 and 17, 2008. 

--Bruce
Looks like they have some other fun programs........ i wouldn't mind seeing the Dalbavie, and hey, maybe for a real challenge (for me), the Babbitt SQs.

greg

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Re: Xenakis's Xen
« Reply #39 on: November 11, 2008, 08:02:06 AM »
They have Keqrops on youtube!  :o
for anyone who hasn't heard it, this is a must-listen!


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cc3ZV9cSZC0

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