Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Some items
to consider


paid for


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

FOGHORN Classics

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

Puertas de Madrid

Eugène Ysaÿe: Violin Discoveries


new releases


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom
Ph. 020 8418 0616



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10


Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month


Symphonic Works

Frederico Mompou

Extraordinary Music for Organ


Gunnar Kristinsson Moonbow

Mozart and Contemporaries


La clarinette Parisienne



CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS
Sound Samples & Downloads

Iannis XENAKIS (1922-2001)
Complete Cello Works
Nomos Alpha (1966) [19:13]
Charisma (1971) [4:31]
Kottos (1977) [10:33]
Epicycles (1989) [12:27]
Paille In the Wind (1992) [5:15]
Hunem-Iduhey (1996) [3:19]
Roscobeck (1996) [7:46]
Dhipli Zyia (1951) [4:52]
Arne Deforce (cello)
Ensemble Fabrik/James Wood
rec. Concertgebouw Bruges, 2 June, 5 July 2010; Cologne, 23 September 2010 (Epicycles). Stereo. DDD
AEON AECD 1109 [67:56]

Experience Classicsonline

Iannis Xenakis had a natural affinity for numbers and mathematical concepts. His relationships with musical instruments were a little more complex. His works for solo instruments usually fit under the fingers, but their idiomatic qualities are rarely based on a deep understanding of the repertoire. Xenakis also had a perverse interest in creating technical difficulties for players to negotiate. And you don't do that by just writing lots of notes, it takes a real understanding of what is possible to play and what is not if you are planning to position your music squarely on the border between the two.
The works on this disc span the second half of the 20th century and give a taste of every period in Xenakis's career. The quality and interest peak in the 1960s and then go into slow decline. The most famous work on the disc, and deservedly so, is Nomos Alpha written in 1966. This is one of his greatest masterpieces and by any estimation deserves a place among the top few cello works of the 20th century. The mathematical principles on which it is based are derived from successive projections of a rotating cube. Or at least I think that is what's going on; the liner notes are mercifully vague when it comes to the technical end of things. But you don't need any knowledge of maths to enjoy this. As with many of Xenakis's string works, Nomos Alpha calls for heavy scraping on the strings and includes lots of tremolo glissando. So the music is always in a state of flux, either from the continuously changing pitch or through movement across the continuum between noise and sound. The technical challenges here are just extraordinary. At the end, for example, the cello plays a series of scales in contrary motion on artificial harmonics. The mind boggles trying to imagine the contortions the cellist's left hand must go through to achieve those.
None of the other works on the disc quite match this opening track for invention or originality. The two tracks that follow - Charisma for cello and clarinet and Kottos again for solo cello - are unremittingly aggressive. Xenakis chooses performance techniques that are going to produce the most abrasive sounds and pursues them doggedly. There is musical interest to be had here, but it takes some work. 

for cello and 12 instruments is similarly unrelenting. The block chords from the brass here resemble those in Eonta. That work succeeds because the lack of rhythmic interest in the brass is more than compensated for by the piano. Here the solo cello line also lacks rhythmic invention, as if the composer's interests lie only in his harmonic elaborations. Interesting as they are, they don't make up for monotony of rhythm and orchestration. 

, a more recent work from 1996, achieves an impressive feat by combining cello with double bass and coming up with a range of musical textures and ideas that justify the pairing. The high quality of the sound reproduction helps to clearly articulate these bass textures. The balance is kept even down at the bottom, with no extraneous bass amplification, all the better to admire these strange timbral combinations.
The programme ends with an early work, Dhipli Zyia. This shows another side to Xenakis, one that is closer to Bartók than to the post-war avant-garde. The piece never quite breaks out into a folksong but always feels like it is about to.
No great technical challenges on this last track, but by this point cellist Arne Deforce has earned the right to rest on his laurels. The cello playing throughout is excellent, especially when you consider the astonishing challenges the composer sets. The cellist, his various collaborators, and the sound engineers all make a good job of the brutal noise-like textures, and the sound of the cello always has a visceral immediacy, even though the microphones are usually placed a reasonable distance back.
The first track of this disc is more than enough to recommend it, and the endless fascination of Xenakis's score repays multiple listenings, especially with a performance and recording of this quality. The other works are only likely to be of interest to already committed Xenakis fans. Although if you really want to get your head around the relationships between higher mathematics and Modern music, this would be a great place to start. 

Gavin Dixon  





















































































Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.