Xenakis Edition Volume 9 - Electronic Works 2
Hibiki Hana Ma (1969-70) (17:45)
electroacoustic work for 8-channel tape
World premiere recording
Polytope de Cluny (1972-74) (24:26)
electroacoustic work for 8-channel tape
Plus, on the DVD only:
NEG-ALE (1960) (8:08)
for piccolo, horn, cello, and percussion
with the film "Vasarely"
First commercial release
This volume collects two of Xenakis' multi-channel works from the 1970s, along with a long-lost film soundtrack (on the DVD only). Restored from the best quality source materials.
A new high-resolution transfer was created from the original analog master tape for POLYTOPE DE CLUNY.
HIBIKI HANA MA has been restored from the multi-track digital masters. (This is audio only on the DVD).
HIBIKI HANA MA was created for the Expo 1970 World's Fair in Osaka, Japan, where it was experienced by thousands. It was designed to be played on a tape loop in a hall which boasted state-of-the-art acoustic equipment, with some 700 speakers scattered under the floor plus 128 surface and suspended speakers symmetrically distributed throughout the pavilion's amphitheater.
Both works were mixed for 5.1 surround and stereo by composer Gerard Pape, who worked with Xenakis and was the director of Xenakis' CCMIX studio in Paris.
Essays by Sharon Kanach and Makis Solomos.
SPECIAL DVD FEATURES
Electronic Works 2
In her liner notes to this set, along with copious details about Xenakis's plans for the sound spatialisation of 1970's Hibiki Hana Ma (written for the Osaka World Fair where he had access to over 800 loudspeakers) and the laser lightshow he devised for 1974's Polytope de Cluny, Sharon Kanach writes: "you had to be there to understand." Well, most of us weren't, so it's a question of "nothing here now but the recordings," to quote William Burroughs. Xenakis / Mode completists will no doubt not want to be without this latest addition to the catalogue, but Polytope de Cluny has in fact already appeared on the label, as part of the excellent double CD CCMIX New Electroacoustic Music From Paris (Mode 98/99). Audio purists will appreciate the new stereo mix, taken from a 96KHz/24-bit transfer from the original analogue master, but at what my mother would call "civilised" volume it doesn't sound drastically different to me (but then again I haven't been playing the disc as loud as I should for fear of instant eviction). Hibiki Hana Ma ("Reverberation - Flower - Interval") started out as an orchestral commission, but Xenakis, keen to take advantage of the Osaka sound system at his disposal, transformed it into an electroacoustic work, but one that uses source material from his extant instrumental music, notably Kraanerg. Once more, this isn't its first appearance on disc - though it's a slightly brighter mix compared to the version included in the EMF Electronic Music set released back in 1997 - so Xenakis nuts will probably already have it. It's good crunchy stuff, though I'm not sure I rate it as highly as DJ Spooky does, and it suffers a little from the pairing with Polytope, which is a more colourful (nearly said "lighter", but that wouldn't be the word) piece.
Xenakis completists will definitely want to get hold of the DVD issue of this Mode disc, though, which includes an eight-minute film made in 1960 by Peter Kassovitz entitled Vasarely and documenting an exhibition of that painter's work at the Denise Renée Gallery. Xenakis provided music in the form of a piece entitled NEG-ALE for piccolo, horn, cello and percussion, but later withdrew the work from his catalogue. Understandably so, as it's pretty slight compared to the other pieces he produced around that time - Herma, Atrées, and the ST series. One wonders whether he'd have been happy to see it released, but I am, despite certain reservations about the recording quality and the rather uninspiring cover art of the Mode Xenakis series in general.
--- Dan Warburton, www.paristransatlantic.com, December 2008
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