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Thursday, June 16, 2005
Xenakis Electronic Music 1
La Légende d’Eer
Mode 148 DVD/CD

Mode has released a wonderful new addition to its steadily growing output of new music DVDs; Xenakis Electronic Music 1- La Légende d’Eer is volume five of its Xenakis series. The DVD contains a 67-minute video conversation of Xenakis with musicologist Harry Halbreich, two essays by Makis Solomos and Bruno Rastoin, the 47-minute electronic work La Légende d’Eer by Iannis Xenakis. La Légende d’Eer is accompanied by a “film” created by Bruno Rastoin; the film is a series of 350 images of Xenakis’ score for La Légende, diagrams of Le Diatope, and photographs of the original performance. (All of this comes with subtitles in English, German, French and Spanish.) La Légende was created for an elaborate production of lights, lasers, mirrors, and music to be performed in a curvilinear shell designed by Xenakis for the opening of the Centre Georges-Pompidou in Paris (a Xenakian gesamtkunstwerk!). La Légende d’Eer is presented here in surround sound. This mix, of the original Xenakis master tapes, was created by Gerard Pape of the Centre du Creation Musicale Iannis Xenakis.

The music of Iannis Xenakis can be grating on the nerves of any music lover, but the harsh worlds he creates in his works are also accompanied by incredible beauty and serenity (though some listeners do not give enough attention to Xenakis to find the beauty in his works). His electronic music is daring and exciting, La Légende d’Eer is an powerful epic work and it is not for the faint of heart. There is another recording of this work by the Montaigne/Naïve label which I do not like as much, (perhaps it is the surround sound aspect of the new Mode release that I like). The accompanying film is a rare glimpse of graphic scores and diagrams of the work created by Xenakis. When I first watched the interview I was disappointed. The lighting is very bad (the interviewer and Xenakis are ghostly white) and the interview was videotaped on what seemed like a bad camcorder. The first half of the interview was not particularly interesting to watch, apparently it was not interesting to be there either because it seemed Xenakis wasn’t paying much attention. The interviewer was trying hard to drag answers out of Xenakis. Some of Xenakis’ replies were rather scattered and hard to follow only to end with him asking the interviewer to repeat the question. But 30 minutes into the interview something changed. Xenakis must have woken up. Xenakis opened up. The last half of this interview is a wonderful glimpse into the working mind of Iannis Xenakis as his ideas on his music and modern art are expressed wonderfully.

Any Xenaki-phile will enjoy this DVD.


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