04 March 2007

Xenakis: Waarg, Echange, Epicycle, Okho

Waarg (1988): I've listened to this now three times and have developed more of a liking to the piece. It seems to me to be one of a new type of works of Xenakis, a relentless chordal tickertape. This is different from somehting like the relentlessness of Oophaa, in that it seems to use arborescences as well. The opening is nice, one pitch with a few flutterings around it and at times one could make an argument that it sounds like litanies, but one would be likely pushing the metaphor. Waarg = "work"

Echange (1989): For Bass Clarinet and wind ensemble. Dark, dark, dark. With a tense opening in the bottom registers and lots of long held notes and dark sonorities. Split tones in the bass clarinet as well. Without the exuberance that characterizes a lot of Xenakis music, this is claustrophobic, angry stuff.

Epicycle (1989): For cello and ensemble and indeed many of Xenakis' classic moves from solo works are present again - this piece is like Kottos but with an accompaniment. The opening reeks of Messaien and throughout the harmonies have that sort of sound, though the piece lacks an overall harmonic progression, there is a lot of activity throughout but it doesn't really seem to go anywhere. Not one of Xenakis' better pieces, though the recording could contribute to an overall lackluster sense surrounding it.

Okho (1989): Three djembes and big African "skin" Likeable rhythmic, it ac tually gets a groove several times and exploits the characteristic sounds of the djembes. Probably fun to play as well. Reading Harley's ridiculous description of it after hearing it is an absurd exercise.

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