Monday, 28 May 2018
Iannis Xenakis - Oresteïa (1987 recording, rel. 1990)
In 1987, Xenakis added a new section, Kassandra, and the premiere of this version in Strasbourg in October of that year was recorded, and released in 1990. If you're familiar with Iannis Xenakis, either from this blog (there's loads - see tag below) or otherwise, you'll know what to expect - staccato attacks, queasy glissandi, thunderous percussion (in great ritualistic rhythm here at times) and general chaos that lends itself well to Aeschylus' classic tragedy trilogy.
The score includes "whips, sirens and metal sheets" as well as wood and metal simantras, tuned blocks originating from the Eastern Orthodox Church. There's even a direction for the audience to be given some of the metal ones - wonder how that worked out? Vocally, the choir (an otherwise unrecorded one from Anjou) are suitably stentorian and portentous, and the visions of Cassandra are relayed in a spectacularly unhinged falsetto. As I've said before, Xenakis at full tilt satisfies me in a way that few other avant-garde composers can, and Oresteïa is a fine example of something a bit different, even for him.