Recorded after performances at New York's prestigious 92nd Street Y in 1996 with the participation of the composer, Ensemble Music 2 is the follow up to the initial, critically acclaimed and best selling volume of Iannis Xenakis' Ensemble Works on Mode.
This disc contains the first recording of Xenakis' memorial work A la Mémoire de Witold Lutoslawski, to the great Polish composer. A literal monument in sound, comprised of massive blocks of brass arranged as a dirge-like fanfare. Composed in 1994, it is the most recent work of Xenakis to be recorded.
Receiving its first CD recording here, Akrata is "classic" and seminal Xenakis. The work's skittering, repeated notes and extreme changes of dynamic yield a sense of vast, isolated space. Echange, a terrifying and mysterious "concerto" for bass-clarinet and ensemble, is one of the darkest pieces in all music. The virtuoso solo part at times leans towards jazz, and the use of extended techniques make the bass-clarinet sound as you've never heard it before. A unique work in Xenakis' oeuvre, Xas ("sax" backwards) joins to growing repertoire for sax quartet. Though highly structured, the work has a improvisatory feel which pays tribute to the sax's prominent jazz heritage. Okho, is a very rhythmic and appealing work for percussion trio playing djembes (a type of African conga drum with extreme bass resonance). Okho and Xas appear for the first time on an all-Xenakis CD.
Conductor Charles Zachary Bornstein is a Xenakis specialist who created the ST-X Ensemble to promote more performances of Xenakis' music in the U.S.