'Palimpsest' (1979) for piano & ensemble. Cory Smythe, piano. 'Echange' (1989) for bass-clarinet & ensemble. Joshua Rubin, bass-clarinet. 'Akanthos' (1977) for soprano & ensemble. Tony Arnold, soprano. 'Thalleïn' (1984) for 16 instruments. 'O-Mega' (1997) for percussion & ensemble. Steven Schick, percussion & conductor. Steven Schick, conductor. 'Zythos' (1996) for trombone & 6 marimbas. Benny Sluchin, trombone.
An exhilarating Xenakis progran, built around works for soloist and ensemble. Most of the soloists are from the acclaimed International Contemporary Ensemble led by their resident guest conductor, Steven Schick. Zythos and O-Mega are among Xenakis's final compositions. In the Xenakis oeuvre these constitute a new and plaintive percussion music. Yet there is a strange power in these stark landscapes. In Zythos, long trombone lines are wound round the threading of six marimba parts. It receives its first recording here, featuring trombonist Benny Sluchin of Ensemble Intercontemporain. O-Mega, a fitting name for Xenakis's final work, is a short offering for percussion soloist and chamber group. Palimpsest is essentially a piano concerto, but the piano along with a set of drums is placed behind a row of nine string and wind instruments. Thus a listener often needs to hear (and see) through the musicians in the front row to hear the soloist in the back. The title implies that what is nearer and more apparent is more recent than what is farther away. Echange is a mysterious work exploring rhythm and texture. A solo bass clarinet spans a spectrum of textural possibility from the long, liquid tones of its low register to the percussive jolt of slap tonguing and key clicks. Akanthos is music built by the rapid exchange of oppositions along with a supple line for female voice. Thalleïn, a long work for large ensemble, echoes the theme of newness. From a basic rhythmic substrate multiple and complex layers of sound issue forth each an elaboration of the previous one until the sounding space is saturated. Liner notes by Steven Schick, Benny Sluchin and Kivie Cahn-Lipman.