14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
21st Century Reviews
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
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!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This review started as a comment under the lead reviewer's review, but I thought it would be useful to potential buyers to promote it to a fully-fledged review. I was myself trying to establish the contents and origins of this compilation, to see if it was worthwhile for me to purchase it, and the review of "21st Century Reviews" was useful... but only to an extent, as he doesn't always go back to the very first sources, and some of his info leaves me somewhat puzzled.
Rosbaud's Metastasis is I suppose the 16 nov. 1955 performance, first issued by Adès in their 4-CD compilation from 1988 "Repères 1945-1975", label number 14.122-2 (bar code 3129671412220, I haven't found a listing here or on Amazon.fr) and only later by Col Legno in their 4 CD compilation "Donaueschingen 1950-1990", AU-031800, bar code 4010165318007 (ASIN B000025NFJ on the European sister companies and selling shamefully cheap right now on Amazon.de). Col Legno later reissued it on a single CD with more Xenakis from various sources, Xenakis: Orchestral Works & Chamber Music- Ata / N'shima / Metastaseis / Ioolko / Charisma / Jonchaies.
This same Adès compilation had Nuits by the "solistes des choeurs de l'ORTF" under the direction of Marcel Couraud, recorded at the Royan Festival in 1968, and my hunch is that this is precisely the version reissued on this Alpha & Omega compilation. The other reviewer refers to an oop EMI box, but I'm very doubtful. There was a studio recording by Couraud, also made in 1968, but it was on an Erato LP (STU 70457 with Messiaen's 5 Rechants and Penderecki's Stabat Mater), to the best of my knowledge not reissued on CD. But EMI???? I'm not aware of any Couraud recording of Nuits on EMI.
The Accord CD mentioned by 21st Century Reviews is (badly) listed here, XENAKIS:ANAKTORIAA/OOPHAA/CHARISMA. But it reissues recordings originally made by Adda and published on various recitals (something the reviewer doesn't seem aware of): Mists was on a Claude Helffer recital of French contemporary piano with pieces of Gilbert Amy, Betsy Jolas, André Boucourechliev and Philippe Manoury, listed here, Contemporary Music for Piano, Oophaa on a recital of harpsichord & percussion by Elisabeth Chojnacka and Sylvio Gualda with pieces of Aperghis, Solal, Ferrari and Miereanu listed here, Elisabeth Chojnacka, Harpsichord; Sylvio Gualda, Percussions, Charisma on a contemporary clarinet recital by Alain Damiens listed here, Xenakis / Haim / Lenot / Globokar. Mikka and Mikka S by Maryvonne Le Dizès were recorded in 1984, published on an Adda LP with Ives 2nd Sonata, Berio's Sequenza 8 and Messiaen's Theme and Variations - in fact, it is even sold on this website, very expensive, Le Dizes: Violin, Henriot: Piano, Signed By Dizes & Henriot. Berio and Messiaen were either reissued or re-recorded (copyright indications are ambiguous and seem to point to a re-recording) for a 1987 Adda CD, 581022 (no bar code, haven't found a listing), complemented with Schoenberg's Fantasy, Copland's Sonata and Maderna's Piece for Ivry, and with Ives' 4th Sonata replacing the 2nd. Anyway, unless I'm missing something, the two Xenakis pieces got their first CD reissue on that Accord CD. Likewise with the two recordings by Octuor de Paris, Anaktoria and Morsima-Amorsima, made in December 1969 for the label Classic, 920217 (from info gathered on the net Accord mentions a recording date of 1972, but no way: that 10" LP was reviewed in the French magazine Harmonie in December 1970) and later reissued on a Musidisc 2-LP set, 16013 (which is what I have, and where the recording date of December 1969 is mentioned).
Benny Sluchin's Keren, for some unknown reason not on the Accord CD reissue (but NOT, as 21st Century surmises, because it was Adda and the rest was not) comes indeed from another Adda CD, a recital of contemporary trombone with Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Le Trombone contemporain, Contemporary Trombone: Works by Henri Dutilleux / René Leibowitz / Giacinto Scelsi / Luciano Berio / Edison Denisov / Barry Anderson / Iannis Xenakis / Pascual Dusapin - Benny Sluchin, Trombone.
Geoffrey Douglas Madge's and Elgar Howarth's Synaphai, Aroura and Antikhton were originally published on a Decca Head LP in 1976, and first reissued straight by Explore in 2006, with the short LP timing, Synaphai / Aroura (see my review). Well, Decca has just recently put that straight, with a CD complementing the original recording with the powerful Keqrops played by Roger Woodward and Claudio Abbado, excerpted from Abbado/DG's Wien Modern III. In truth, they were preempted by this compilation. 21st Century Reviews appears to complain about the inclusion of Keqrops here, with the argument that "we were all introduced to [it] through Abbado and DG" already - yeah, weren't we all. Well, among the hundreds of CDs that I buy every year, old (mostly) and new (occasionally), so far I've missed the Wien modern III recital. The same reviewer - whose Xenakis reviews I've generally found quite valuable, even when not entirely accurate - also has grotesquely mean and misguided words about the recent Decca reissue (see our reviews under Xenakis: Synaphai), now with the arguments that a. better record hitherto unrecorded Xenakis than offer reissues and b. only the "cheap noob" could be interested by the single Decca CD when he can buy this 4-CD compilation here. Well, yeah, sure, Xenakis should be forbidden to all but the diehard fans ready to buy at whatever price any crump of his music, and remain the preserve of that happy few. All others are but "cheap noobs". In fact the Decca reissue is one of the best introductions to the music of Xenakis for those who wouldn't want to immediately take the plunge into 4 CDs of his music.
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