This ambitious and beautifully produced two-CD set includes nearly all of Iannis Xenakis' chamber music for strings, piano, and strings and piano combined. Chamber music constituted a small part of the composer's output, since large ensembles and large forms were vehicles more commensurate with the aesthetic of his monumental, granitic music. There are no small pieces here, though; in each of these works, ranging from solos to a quintet for piano and strings, Xenakis was able to express his uncompromising vision no less ferociously than in his orchestral works. While all of the pieces have an elemental character, many with a visceral punch, the actual sound of the music is surprisingly varied, and the individual works have distinctive and individual characters. In spite of the weightiness and rigor of the music, the tone is not necessarily heavy, and some pieces, like Evryali for piano and Dikhthas for violin and piano, have moments of what could almost be described as whimsicality.
Under the musical direction of Donal Lunny, features big names such as John McSherry, Nollaig Casey, Van Morrison, Maire Brennan, Stephen Cooney, Nomos, Matt Molloy, Pat Crowley, Noel Bridgeman, Maire Breatnach, Seamus Begley, John Spillane, Liam 0' Flynn, Paul Brady, Mark Knopfler, Anuna, Brian Kennedy, Laoise Kelly, Maighréad Ní Dhomhnaill, Mairtin 0' Connor, Iarla Ó Lionaird and Sharon Shannon.
Universal Music pays tribute to the composer with this keenly priced 4 CD set. Most of the recordings found here are making a comeback to the catalogue, some are first time onto CD. Ten years after his death, the innovativeness of his music has lost none of its force and clearly marks him out as an essential composer of our time. “this is an extraordinary collection of pieces; several of which are among the most ear-stretchingly dissonant, exciting and uncompromising you’ll ever hear…And however hard it is to pin down exactly why, Xenakis’s wildest outbursts always sound controlled, cunningly organised…None of this music is easy listening, but it’s impossible not to be impressed by such craggy, exhilarating physicality.”