Terzakis' Tetracktys

Started by snyprrr, June 04, 2009, 10:03:42 PM

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Dimitri Terzakis (b.1936)

I took a slight chance on a CPO disc by this composer, "The Gates of Day and Night," the one with the great El Greco painting of Toledo.

Two SQs, vocal works with various acc., and one octet... I thought it was a double cd, but, as it turned out, one very well filled disc. All I imagined of Terzakis would be sooome kind of "High" Modernism a la Xenakis, Ligeti, Berio (oh my!) etc...in a more monophonic framework. I had heard good, and so so comments, but I was surprised how unique and artistic this cd turned out to be.

SQ No.2 (1977) starts off... please, can anyone help here, is that a violin or a click track???...a "clicking" sound, very unique... in which a Scelsian introduction gathers...

...to say that Terzakis sounds either like Xenakis or Scelsi might not be...he DOES sound like what you might have wished "Greek" late-Xenakis to sound like... taken to a monophonic, Scelsian, level, though with perhaps more modal melodic interest than both.

The SQ continues on a monophonic melisma, sounding at once more ethnic and primal than most anything I've heard coming out of the avant garde... this very much sounds like proto-Kronos type stuff, but like the real deal. Normally I don't like such a tight acoustic, but here it works to the music's advantage. After a very refreshing 12min., we are again left with the "clicks." I can't stress how disconcerting these clicks are: if they are truly part of the music, then it is the coup of the century... so simple, yet so profound... and disturbing. If it is a tape? (why?, plus, no notes to that???), then he meant it... but, I think it's supposed to be an instrument.

However, just when you're scratching your head over that, SQ No.3 (1983) comes blazing across in a mass of festive oriental unisons. This SQ takes No.2 a few steps further. This may be the greatest single "ethnic" SQ I've heard. F. Cerha also has delved into the Eastern folk musics (SQ No.2 "Maqam"), with late-Berio like results, and the Kronos stable (Franguiz, Gorecki, Kancheli) cranks out things slightly similar (though IMHO not near this level), but Terzakis seems to have this territory almost exclusively to himself.

Next comes duos and trios with voice, all different (one w/sanduri), with three different singers, all wonderful... and one piece for vocal sextet.

I notoriously don't like "classical" singing, but this is beautiful... obviously with some Greek flavor... more human than Xenakis, though still as primal... this these are "time stands still" marble etchings, reliefs.

In two pieces the clarinet and voice come together in Terzakian melismas. The piece with sanduri is especially oriental sounding; and the choral piece very modern and ancient at the same time.

Ultimately, Terzakis does not sound to me like he's "trying" to sound any way. It feels really natural, but it is profoundly ancient and modern sounding at the same time. Honestly, the octet, Oktoechos, which blended all previous strands together, came across as the most joyous, folky travelogue... but PLEASE, DON'T MISUNDERSTAND... when I use those words, I can't stress enough that this is still "avant" composer music... there is no compromise, but in Terzakis' increasingly monophonic (yet extremely rich) textures, and his choice of notes, there is just a bubbly rythmic joy that just cannot be denied. I know I could be castigated for using the word "communicative" in an "avant" setting, but that's exactly what I hear in Terzakis. Just imagine the "Greek" and the "mathematical" Xenakis merged into a slightly more user friendly personality (though I may say that Terzakis is his own man here, and might be a bit ahead of Xenakis in this field).

Wow, this is a long post... however, I WAS very disturbed and enlightened by this very very unique music. It just absolutely sounds like the real thing, the perfect ancient/modern blend.


There is a follow up cd on CPO containing SQ No.5 and other chamber works, but, beyond that, I think there is a col legno cd and some sax scraps, but, as far as an introduction, "The Gates of Night and Day" is more than a calling card.

some guy

Well, just so you know, snyprrr, this got my attention. And I'll be getting some Terzakis discs when I get home. (I'm my spring trip to Europe right now, just finishing with the Bourges festival. Last thing tonight, Eric Cordier! Yow!!)

some guy

Well, I've not had a chance yet to listen to my three Terzakis CDs more than once, but first impressions were good. Can't help ya with what's making the clicks, but it's a sure bet that if they're at the beginning and at the end, then they're on purpose!

(The Cordier was splendid, by the way.)


3 cds of Terzakis ??????

THAT'S disposable income, haha!!! But I'm glad you enjoy. I've been starting to enjoy the vocal works a lott more, and the final chamber piece, Oktoechos, has such a charming ethnic sound.

Quote from: some guy on July 03, 2009, 10:14:10 AM(The Cordier was splendid, by the way.)

Am I going to feel stupid for asking what this means?