Xenakis Ensemble

Xenakis Ensemble

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The Dutch Xenakis Ensemble, named for the famous Greek composer, has been making recordings of new music since 1981. Many composers have written for them including Theo Loevendie, Morton Feldman, John Cage, and of course Iannis Xenakis and the other two composers included in this program, Willem Breuker and David del Puerto. The set kicks off with "Thallein" by the group's namesake. Written as a study for brass and winds, it is reminiscent of Boulez in its color forms and triadic patterns among the brass instruments, and their contrapuntal and serial relationships to both woodwinds and a small but efficient string section. Also, the use of organic percussion at the accents creates a kind of cadenza feel in the body of the composition. Strange tonal alliances are formed and broken in textural balances of intentionally misaligned pitches. On Breuker's "Waakvam-Pilot Light" for harpsichord and chamber orchestra, the composer uses a minor seventh figure in E flat to highlight the unusually pastoral tone of his strings. Active but non-insistent, they forge an alliance with the winds, creating a gorgeous backdrop for brass colorations as the pitches slip from E flat to B flat, and finally to F sharp in a wild round of glissandi with operatic overtones. The final work here is Xenakis' classic "O-Mega" for percussion and orchestra from 1997. It's a beach blanket bong-out with three sets of bongos kicking it against an orchestral drone. This is a solid program with many surprises, including its relative accessibility. The sound on the recording is phenomenal, as is Diego Masson's conducting.

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