Thursday, April 2, 2009

Xenakis: The Total Immersion concert 2, London, March 7 2009

Total Immersion:

Xenakis, Iannis (1922-2001)

Tracées 7'
Anastenaria 23'
Sea-Nymphs* 8'
Mists 12'
Nuits* 9'
Troorkh 16'
Antikhthon 19'

Christian Lindberg, trombone
Rolf Hind, piano
BBC Singers
Men of the BBC Symphony Chorus

BBC Symphony Orchestra
Martyn Brabbins, conductor
Stephen Betteridge, conductor*

Broadcast live Saturday 7 March 2009 on BBC Radio 3
Barbican Hall, London

These are drop-dead gorgeous sounds to revel in from the Greek master, like some mashup of Tibetan Buddhist Temple music and, I don't know. Everything. If Mahler wanted a symphony to encapsulate the world, this is an alternate approach to that impulse.

Andrew Maisel of gives a review of the performance (a complete version is included in the info file):

"There couldn’t be a more mind-blowing introduction to Xenakis’s music than the opening juggernaut of a work, Tracées...
Christian Lindberg commissioned Troorkh, a concerto for trombone and orchestra. ... After close on 20 years, Troorkh seems no easier for Lindberg, requiring superhuman levels of stamina to get through the rapid-fire glissandos and writhing complexities, accents frequently pushed to a full three-and-half octaves. Watching Lindberg in action is an event in itself. In between passages he would be limbering up, sucking in large amounts of air ready for the next assault. A Herculean effort, too, from the trombonists of the BBCSO, pushed almost to the same extremes in passages mirroring the soloist....Full marks though to Martyn Brabbins and the BBC forces who continually displayed their versatility, discipline and sheer staying power over this very long evening."

from  the archives (CA1327) originally, all thanks to Maestro Greene there.


Guillermo said...

Needless to say, this is no joke- Though I do hear some robust, wry humor in the writing at times.

Guillermo said...

maready, thank you! you're a fount of trails leading onward!
ALAS, our favorite recording personnel have requested the lowest possible profile, while remaining stalwart contributors of invaluable sounds (hence, no names). Forgive me the removal of such a thoughtful commentary, then? Please check the other discussions we've enjoyed (and will continue to!) on the Jarvi B8, as I've done some modification there as well.

Guillermo said...

maready had said...

"Merci beaucoup Guillermo! There have been so many Carter, Stockhausen and Xenakis tributes over the last year that I'm barely keeping track of which material I have already. Thank you for providing yet more listening pleasure. I had consigned Xenakis to the kooky post-war period of pseudo-scientific "researchers", until I finally caught up with his later works. Now I take him very seriously indeed ... what a wide-ranging mind he had, and a real talent for orchestration and form. In more recent performances of his music, the obvious pleasure that musicians take in playing him comes across quite clearly.

You write: "If Mahler wanted a symphony to encapsulate the world, this is an alternate approach to that impulse ...". That is the signal to me to once again mention a recent composer, and a work, that I believe truly can be mentioned in the same breath with Mahler: Hugues Dufourt's "Les Hivers", recorded on the AEON label. This is a completely successful attempt to write a "masterwork" on the musical and spiritual level of Bruckner, the Mahler 3rd and 8th, and Szymanowski's "King Roger". I feel that the research of the French Spectralists becomes fully-fledged music in this giant "symphony" (and in Gerard Grisey's last works). If that sounds appealing to you or your followers, do not hesitate to acquire this multi-movement work spread across 3 CDs!

Thank you for the Xenakis"

and thank You!

maready said...

I do hope there is a safehouse available should it come to that

Guillermo said...

Safety and security being illusions at best, We'll continue as long as we're able- with the same bunch of folks, only with a few more bearing the name A. Nonymous in the ranks.

maready said...

Thanks very much for this one, Guillermo ..... this Xenakis collection stands out from the pack with very good sound --- nice work!!!

Boom said...

Makes Carter sound like Haydn... But fascinating stuff none the less!


maready said...

But Carter DOES sound like Haydn! Xenakis makes Van der Graaf Generator sound like the Kinks!

Joseph Henry said...

Nah, Carter sounds more like Brahms.

Thanks, Guilermo, for uploading the Xenakis (as well as the Kurtág earlier). Good listens so far.

For anyone who doesn't know, the final segment of "Anastenaria" is "Metastasis," which used to be Xenakis' official Opus 1. Stockhausen's "Carré" and the sound-block works of Penderecki and Ligeti all owe quite a lot to it.

maready said...

Good point re Carter and Brahms --- you're right.

maready said...

Xenakis seems to scare a lot of people off, because of the mathematics and also the "ugly" sounds in some of his works. His oeuvre is actually really diverse --- many of his pieces are lovely, and a lot of his ugliness is an "ugly beauty" to paraphrase Thelonius Monk. He also has a good sense of proportion, and is good about not letting a piece go on longer than its material warrants. I rate him higher and higher as the years go by.

Dodorock said...

My first serious try of this music. Grateful to you

Guillermo said...

Very Welcome-check out Arturo Tamayo's extensive conducting of his work if you're intrigued...

maready said...

Guillermo --- I already thanked you for this sometime back, but I wanted to thank you again, as I've been listening to it a lot lately. There have been a number of Xenakis festivals and a number of Xenakis mega-packages of recordings from those concerts, and I've really gotten a much better handle on the composer than I once had. (I was almost completely ignorant of what he'd done since the 60s). This is probably the live package I return to the most ... so thanks.

I'll second your recommendation of the four Artur Tamayo CDs on Timpani --- they are excellent, and each one is a mix of old and new works, all of them very substantial. In fact, I find it hard to think of another recent composer who published so much but maintained such high quality control. My only regret in all the recent Xenakis posting is that my very favorite piece of his, "Polla ti Dhina", a short little piece for children's choir and orchestra, wasn't programmed at any of the concerts. It's on a long out-of-print LP conducted by Konstantin Simonovitch --- I heard it when I was a young teenager and it has haunted me ever since. There's a transfer of it at the Avant Garde Project site, but unfortunately (and very uncharacteristically for AGP), there is a horrible transfer blemish for about 20 seconds near the beginning --- but that's not enough to ruin a uniquely beautiful, brief piece.

And an extremely belated thank you (although I thanked you at the time) for your infamously wonderful P. Jarvi LVB 8 and Harnoncourt LVB 5 ... I listened to both of these this morning with some strong Spanish coffee and I haven't stopped running around the house accomplishing things all day!

Speedily yours, Maready

Guillermo said...

Much obliged, maready. Lately Kurtag has fed my productive impulse, especially the Kafka fragments (Csengery/Keller version). But that always couples perfectly with a bracing Beethoven to get things done, doesn't it? at volume, of course.

greenline said...

thank you! i like many your postings keep same great work, take care 1

Maarten said...

Hi, can't open Verdi overtures Sinopoli... must have a passphrase

tanks a lot,


Xeniteprince said...

Thanks Guillermo! I'm new here and my only encounter with Xenakis up to now had been his Oresteïa (which I love). This post will help me know more about his music!