Iannis Xenakis 'Alpha & Omega' (4cds; Universal, Accord, INA, INA-GRM, SWR, MFA)
This set collects what appears to be every old recording not presented on either the RZ Editions 2cd set, or the classic 'Metastasis'/'Pithoprakta'/'Eonta' recording. Here are the contents:
'Metastasis' (Rosbaud; available on ColLegno)
'Diamorphoses' (available on INA-GRM)
'Concret PH' (available on INA-GRM)
'Orient-Occident' (available on INA-GRM)
'Morisma-Amorisma' (available on Accord)
'Nomos Alpha' (Palm; available on DG)
'Anaktoria' (available on Accord)
'Nuits' (l'ORTF/Couraud; only available in an OOP EMI box)
'Persephassa' (available on Philips)
'Synaphai' (available on Explore Records)
'Aroura' (available on Explore Records)
.Antikhthon' (available on Explore Records)
'Persepolis' (available on RZ Editions)
'Charisma' (available on Accord)
'Mikka & Mikka -S-' (available on Accord)
'Mists' (available on Accord)
'Keren' (available on Accord (but not the same cd as the others))
'Keqrops' (available on DG)
'Oophaa' (available on Accord)
'O-Mega' (available on Accord, but only part of a Roland Auzet box)
So, there you have it. Basically, for the Xenakis collector, this box replaces these following cds:
1) the Accord disc of chamber works
2) the trombone recital on Adda, by Benny Sluchin (which is a different performance than the one on Erato)
3) the DG 20/21 recital by Palm
4) the DG/Abbado disc
5) the EMI vocal box
6) the Explore Records re-issue of Howarth conducting
7) the single issue of 'Persepolis' (at @56')
8) the Philips 2cd including 'Persephassa'
This set does NOT including everything from the INA-GRM cd called 'Electronic Music', and it does NOT include all the Xenakis from the Auzet box, and it does NOT include everything from the ColLegno release 'Orchestral Works & Chamber Music', so, those three releases are still mandatory!
What we DO have here, by way of anything really new, is the original recording of 'Analogique A+B', which I am sure has not been available on cd before (we have one recording on the 'Iannissimo!' disc, and one on the Mode release 'Music for Strings'). This is good to have back in the catalog, as is the original recording of 'Nuits' with Couaud conducting. It is also good to have the Palm performance of 'Nomos Alpha', since the 20/21 cd may not be to everyone's liking, and Palm certainly delivers one of the Top3 performances.
(EDIT: This original 'Nuits' is shockingly bracing, with some awesome contributions by the singers. My go to is the vocal group on Arion (with Messiaen), which I like very much (the one on Hyperion is JUST too fast; I haven't heard the other 2-4 recordings)); this one is right in your face, with the singers producing sounds the others didn't even seem to consider (still, I haven't heard all versions). This recording may be the jewel in the crown here!
The 'Analogique A+B' is also bracing, the electronics smacking your right in the face. I let the DJ Spooky version go when I heard the Mode release, but this version has that classic 60s sound that feels like soul food!
The Palm 'Nomos Alpha', also, is a searing rendition, clocking in as one of the quickest. This too is just such a classic.
I was asking earlier why the Sluchin 'Keren' wasn't included in the Accord chamber disc, when I realized his recital was on Adda, not Accord. But, to be sure, it could also be because this version of 'Keren' is, frankly, quite weak. Just compare the opening with Lindberg, and be prepared to be embarrassed for Sluchin! Still, there are things here which are interesting for study, so, it's still quite a good thing to have it here. EDIT: end)
For those of you who didn't get all these works piecemeal, this set is essential. Had the Explore Recordings disc never materialized, this set would be even a more exciting discovery. I spent a lot of money to get the Philips set with 'Persephassa' from Europe, so, most all of you will certainly be treated to what is another classic 'new' Xenakis recording (like the joy at hearing the RZ Editions set for the first time!).
This recording of 'O-Mega' is also slightly preferable to the one on Bvhaast. Auzet certainly plays better than my pet peeve Faber, but, because the two recordings are different (Auzet: @4mins.; Faber: @3:30), different things are brought out in the ensemble, so, both are good for studying; the Auzet would probably be preferable for listening enjoyment.
I have yet to hear Sluchin's Accord 'Keren', but, at 7:31, it will be interesting to compare to his other on Erato (6:33), and Lindberg on BIS (6:05!). I'm surprised this never made it onto the Accord disc, as this recording appears to precede it.
The one seemingly out of place work here is the great and mighty work 'Keqrops', which we were all introduced to through Abbado and DG. All it does here is make me wish for the final few late works ('Koiranoi', 'Sea-Change', 'Mosaiques', '(For the Whales)',... the Takemitsu piece,... yes, there's a few to be sure) to see the light of day. Still, if you haven't heard 'Keqrops', I certainly think it's one of Xenakis's most awesome works.
If you're new to Xenakis, there's this box, the Timpani box, the RZ set, the Mode cycle the Arditti set, the Erato set,... there's just so many definitive Xenakis recordings out now. I would even encourage others, who probably have most of these recordings already, to check out this set for the alternative recordings that they're missing.
The packaging is pretty cool, with that nice picture of Xenakis on the cover of the sleek box; the booklet includes some nice photos I've not seen. My only real complaint is with the order of the pieces on the cds, but, I can see why it had to be the way it is, and, this is really not a complaint at all. Well, I'm off now to dip into this thing!