Xenakis: Synaphaï; Horos; Eridanos; Kyania

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LABELS: Timpani
WORKS: Synaphaï; Horos; Eridanos; Kyania
PERFORMER: Hiroaki Ooï (piano); Luxembourg PO/ Arturo Tamayo
CATALOGUE NO: 1C 1068 (distr. Discovery)
This CD is every bit as good as the previous instalments in Arturo Tamayo’s ongoing exploration of Xenakis (reviewed February 2002). In Synaphaï, the expertise of orchestra and conductor is complemented by the pianistic acrobatics of Hiroaki Ooï, who makes light of the extreme demands of the work, whether hurling massive chords all over the keyboard or picking out a melodic line in the middle of dense counterpoint. There’s little repose in this piece, but more in Eridanos, where delicate clouds of sound in the strings, either arco or pizzicato, are contrasted with more aggressive material, usually in the brass. And there’s a great immediate sense of continuity here as well, as the music frequently comes to rest on massive unisons which act as aural milestones. These two works date from around 1970: by the Nineties Xenakis, though recognisably the same composer, was constructing his pieces much more by moving blocks of sound in rhythmic unison. Both Horos and Kyania have the feeling of unstoppable juggernauts moving forward: if you are on board, this can give a real adrenalin rush; if not, you may feel crushed under a welter of rebarbative dissonance, which even the commitment and authority of the playing won’t dispel. But Xenakis fans need not hesitate. Martin Cotton