26 January 2007

Xenakis: Pour la Paix

Pour la Paix (1981): A radiophonic piece for electronics, speakers, and eight-voice choir. The story, by Xenakis' wife tell sabout two soldiers in enemy camps who sneak off together to recall boyhood and hang out diving in a lake. This is an interesting piece particularly in the way that many of the Xenakis effects become contexualized by the narrative that surrounds them. So whereas we hear the frequency running that is so present in the beginning of Tetras, and here it has the sense of radios searching for a frequency. We hear the glissandi and it becomes waves and water. In effect, these sound abstractions are twisted in the listener to become more concrete ideas - perhpas this is the funciton of their abstraction. However, when we take them all as a whole the fact that they are so suited to war, makes me believe more that these light tracings, these glissandi sires, these radio fiddlings, these random percussive blasts are war sounds. I recall when Boornstein asks Xenakis about the influence o the war on his music, Xenakis ignores the question entirely. I think the piece works fine as a radio play, unlike Harley, though I might have liked a more contrapuntal treatment of the sounds and the narration. The choral moments are not among his most inspired but fit with the sense of the play for the most part.

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