Iannis Xenakis: Kraanerg (DVD)

Published in Discography, Music Incubator

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Album Details

Xenakis Edition Volume 8 – Kraanerg

Kraanerg (1968-69)
for 23 instruments and 4-channel tape

Mode Records
Callithumpian Consort
Stephen Drury, conductor

First recording with restored analog tape

“It is a wonderful piece of music, enthralling, and one that grips the mind and the heart…(it) is one of the major ballet scores of the century” – Clive Barnes, New York Times, 1968

Kraanerg is one of Xenakis’ most popular – and infamous – works. A visceral and highly charged score for woodwinds, brass, and strings along with quadrophonic tape. The title, Kraanerg, is a composite of two Greek words: “kraan”, meaning to perfect, to accomplish; and “erg”, signifying energy.

Commissioned for the gala opening of the National Arts Centre (NAC) in Ottawa, Canada in 1968, Kraanerg originally was the score to a ballet choreographed by Roland Petit with “op-art” sets by Victor Vasarely.

According to Xenakis’ program notes, the title also referred to the “current youth movements” – 1968 was a significant year in modern social history – and to his utopian vision of the upcoming “biological struggle between generations unfurling all over the planet, destroying existing political, social, urban, scientific, artistic and ideological frameworks on a scale never before attempted by humanity.” This powerful statement can be felt in the music.

The dramatic 4-channel tape is derived from a recording of the orchestra, transformed and distorted. Its sonic textures kaleidoscopically expand the range of expression while at the same time remaining connected to the instrumental material.

The 4-channel tape has been restored for this release from high-resolution transfers of the analog masters by German electronic composer Daniel Teige – revealing greater details in the texture and a wider dynamic range than previously heard on any Kraanerg recording.

96khz/24-bit high resolution recording. Liner notes by composer James Harley. Available as CD (MOD-CD-196) and surround-sound video DVD (MOD-DV-D196).

*First surround-sound release of Kraanerg.
*Mode returned to the 4-track analog tapes and remastered them for this release – revealing previously unheard detail, clarity and extended low-end frequencies. First recording to strictly respect the silences indicated in Xenakis’ score.
*Interview on Kraanerg’s history featuring Xenakis expert James Harley with Gerard Pape (director of Xenakis’ CCMIX studio 1991-2008), Françoise Xenakis (the composer’s wife, author and media personality), and Veronica Tennant (a lead dancer in the ballet’s premiere). [26 minutes]
*Additional documentary on Kraanerg’s tape with German electronic composer Daniel Teige, with musical examples. [12 minutes]

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