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Iannis Xenakis was born in Romania in 1922 of Greek parents. In 1932 his family moved back to Greece where he commenced his studies, eventually specialising in engineering and architecture: in music he was largely self-taught. During WWII Xenakis was a member of the Resistance in Greece and, in 1945, sustained a severe facial injury that resulted in the loss of sight in one eye. Sentenced to death by the post-war right-wing Greek government, Xenakis escaped Greece with the intention of reaching the USA, but on arrival in France, in 1947, he settled there and became a French citizen.
In France Xenakis took up studies with some of the most prominent composers at work in Paris at the time, including Honneger, Milhaud and then, most importantly, Messiaen. He met the architect Le Corbusier who employed his engineering skills and then took him into collaboration. It was whilst with Le Corbusier that Xenakis worked on some important architectural projects, one of the most notable being the design of the Philips pavillion at the 1958 Brussels Exposition.
During the 1950s music became Xenakis' increasing preoccupation and, with the encouragement of Messiaen, in 1953-54, he produced Metastasis, his first major work for orchestra. During the 1950s Xenakis pioneered electronic and computer music and became a major voice in the music world and many younger composers came under his influence, notably Penderecki and Takemitsu, who both acknowledged this influence. Xenakis died in Paris on 4 February 2001.
The works on these two discs were all written in the 1950s & 60s, at a time when Xenakis was at his most productive. It has to be said that, to the casual listener, this is not easy listening. However, to the more adventurous collector and to those prepared to explore new musical avenues, this set of the music of Xenakis will prove a rare and valuable opportunity.
Xenakis: Atrées For 10 Instruments. 1st Part
Xenakis: Atrées For 10 Instruments. 3rd Part
Xenakis: Atrées For 10 Instruments. 5th Part
Xenakis: Atrées For 10 Instruments. 2nd Part
Xenakis: Atrées For 10 Instruments. 4th Part
Xenakis: Nomos Alpha
Xenakis: Polla Ta Dhina
“there's an authentic roughness and excitement in the playing”
“These 40-year-old recordings still pack a considerable acoustic punch. Remastered to keep the original colours sharp without adding anachronistic atmosphere, they provide powerful testimony of the commitment of pioneering performers to difficult but memorable new music...the music radiates the timeless force of true modernity.”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.