on 18 July 2013
Xenakis' originality remains tough enough that his music is still poorly appreciated. This makes this disc all the more important to hear and consider.
It's remarkable music. Eonta opens with a spectacular piano cadenza that gets interrupted after a couple of minutes by the brass (it's only written for piano, two trumpets and three trombones). They have a fight as to who is leading the music which eventually (perhaps inevitably) the brass win ... Metastasis (rather hopefully translated as "dialectical transformation") is much easier on the ear, ending with a quiet and satisfying resolution. Pithoprakta sets out a clear agenda to transform the perception of the instrument as individual into the perception of the collective. But to be fair I should make plain that it (especially Eonta) is not relaxing music to listen to. If you are studying the potential avenues for music and composition, this is a must; if you want something soothing for the late evening, there are other genres.
I am immensely impressed by the performances. Xenakis has scant concern for the challenges he sets performers, and the soloists here rise to the occasion brilliantly, especially Yuji Takahashi. The recording is also stunning for the period. Claude Rostand provides an entertaining little essay (dating from 1965) which looks to provide context to a potential listener. Xenakis himself provides excellent (perhaps over-concise) notes on the pieces, which are sharply distinguished in their objectives. But this is music rooted in concepts that need far deeper links than Rostand provides. I hear pre-echoes of late Lutoslawski and of the mature Elliott Carter but I think the reverberations of Xenakis' originality will take quite some time to settle into a complete context.
on 3 October 2005
I give this four stars mainly because the 35 year old "gramaphone record" I have of these recordings is almost worn out, and, looking for a replacement, I was amazed to see that these recordings are still available in the new medium. Now more than 50 years old, Xenakis' astounding debut sounds as fresh and challenging as ever.