Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Iannis Xenakis - Synaphaï (2013 compi rec. 1975 & 1992)

Nothing quite gets me through a long week like a nice slab of Xenakian mayhem - or four.  The first three pieces on this disc were originally released on LP in 1976, and the fourth is from a compilation from 20 years later, but thematically and stylistically, it's all good.
Original UK LP, 1976
Synaphaï, Greek for 'connexities', was written in 1969 as a piano concerto of sorts.  In Xenakis' hands, naturally, this meant a grinding, stabbing 86-piece orchestra being overlaid with a jaw-droppingly acrobatic piano part.  Aroura ('earth') (1971) is for string orchestra, and slithers and judders around nicely.  Both of these pieces are just under 12 minutes long.

The 20-minute Antikthhon, also from '71, was written as a ballet, the title being a Pythagorean term meaning 'counter-earth'.  It's textbook orchestral Xenakis, and my favourite thing here, with all of his usual staccato jitters, glissandi and percussive thunder making for a stunning experience.

As noted above, Keqrops (1986) is a kind of bonus track to this compilation, being the only one not from the '75 London recordings with the New Philharmonic.  It's a 1992 recording by the Mahler Youth Orchestra of one of the best orchestral epics of 80s-era Xenakis, and like Synaphaï, is a bit of a piano-concerto-gone-insane undertaking in its structure and sound - well worth its inclusion here.

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for all the Xenakis! Helping me broaden my horizons....

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