Xenakis: Jonchaies; Shaar; Lichens,

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

LABELS: Timpani
WORKS: Jonchaies; Shaar; Lichens,
PERFORMER: Luxembourg PO/Arturo Tamayo
This is viscerally exciting music. In Jonchaies, after the opening upward glissando and the proliferation of a primitive folk-like melody in the strings, the stage is set for pounding blocks of sound hurled remorselessly between the sections of the orchestra. What might be a moment of repose quickly turns into sinister slithering in the brass before the full force of the orchestra returns. And even though the ending is quiet, its piccolo-dominated shrillness ensures that it isn’t peaceful. Shaar is for strings alone, and contains all of Xenakis’s fingerprints: sliding between notes of a melodic line; massive clusters of sound, sometimes converging on to a single note; obsessive repetitive rhythms; and the strong feeling of some archetypal ancient ritual. In Lichens there’s a more organic process at work: the music proceeds by evolution, not revolution, as each event grows out of the previous one, rather than fighting it. Antikhthon is the most fluid of the works on the disc, with a kaleidoscopic array of ever-changing sounds, and even some rare punctuating silences. Tamayo is expert in this repertoire, and gets playing of precision and attack from the orchestra. But be warned: a lot of this is extremely loud, and could scare the neighbours. Martin Cotton