12 February 2007

Xenakis: Jalons

Jalons (1986): This is an awful strange piece written for the Ensemble Intercontemporain - (one of everything ensemble + Bs. Cl, second violin and harp). It seems almost as if Xenakis is simply having fun writing for the ensemble, there little of the cohesiveness that ties together some of his other pieces, and the sections are not as clearly demarcated as in something like Empreintes. It is amazing also how thin the ensemble seems in Xenakis' orchestration. There are a few ideas that are worth recounting, the enveloping of the opening sonority - in that different pitches of the chord fade out as they would in an electronic setting. Also the sort of relentlessness of the sixteenth-note rhythm throughout - it is almost Baroque in a way. There's no percussion in this work. Nice moment toward the beginning with the high winds playing a glistening cluster around B as the strings have complex glissandi-melodies, which sound almost like talking especially with the entry of the low Bassoon. It almost seems as if Xenakis is really showing an awareness ofr hte acoustics and harmony here, which given his proclivity later in the piece and elsewhere for pan-scalar sonorities piques the ear, though this idea is not developed. Here is where I feel really left out of this piece, the sectional nature doesn't evidence, at least to my ear, development. Rather it is closer to moment form which is something I've never been all that compelled by. Jalons="signposts, landmarks" just like Horos - his last big commission, interesting, no?

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