Iannis Xenakis: Works with Piano

Aki Takahashi

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Iannis Xenakis: Works with Piano Review

by Blair Sanderson

The four works by Iannis Xenakis presented on this CD were composed for piano and other instruments, and though the means of sound production and textures are changeable, the piano is at the center of activity. Whether it is the interplay of the keyboard against brass in Eonta (1963), integrated with strings in Morsima-Amorsima (1962)and Akea (1986), or paired with a cello in Paille in the wind (1992), how the density of the piano's part is weighed against the thick harmonic blocks or linear strands of the other instruments is a chief concern in all of the pieces. Because Xenakis was philosophically averse to repeating himself and regarded each of his works as sui generis, the sounds and techniques employed are dramatically different in each instance. The hyperactivity and abrasive sonorities of Xenakis' works in the 1960s, which are evident in Eonta and Morsima-Amorsima, are a world away from the more subdued and darker soundworld of Akea, and even further removed from the sparseness of Paille in the wind, both later works, so no system or technique can be perceived as constant between them. What is constant, though, is the first-rate playing of pianist Aki Takahashi, cellist Rohan de Saram, the JACK Quartet, and the Callithumpian Consort, conducted by Stephen Drury, who give committed performances of Xenakis' challenging music and make this album a bracing experience. This is not music for relaxed listening, so it should be noted that only adventurous listeners will be drawn to this album. But fans of Xenakis and experimental music will appreciate this addition to Mode's admirable series covering this composer's output.

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