That these works seem somewhat mismatched has less to do with odd programming decisions than with the difficulty of categorizing Iannis Xenakis' music. At the heart of the problem is Xenakis' refusal to write in one style and his stated pledge to avoid repeating himself. As a result of this uncompromising position, his works are often hard to coherently arrange in concert and on disc. Juan Pablo Izquierdo and the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic have paired La Déesse Athéna and Persephassa, two percussion-based pieces that are tied to the ritualistic theater works Xenakis created in the last three decades of his life. Finding a suitable match for Dämmerschein was apparently a greater challenge. The selection of Edgard Varèse's Amériques makes sense musically -- even if it breaks the program's continuity by including a second composer -- because it balances Dämmerschein in scale, color, and intensity. All four works are performed with energy and given enthusiastic readings, though Persephassa loses some of its effectiveness by being performed in the close confines of a stage setting. La Déesse Athéna is perhaps the least enjoyable selection, largely because its abrasive harmonies and Philip Larson's stark incantation make it more appropriate for the theater than for home listening.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson