Anders Loguin, XENAKIS: Pleiades / Psappha

Todd Burns

By Todd Burns

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
A concerto for percussion, composed by one of modern classical’s most inscrutable figures.

Iannis Xenakis was already a well-known architect before he began to study music. While he worked in the '40s and '50s with Le Corbusier, he composed in his spare time. That's probably why his scores are pretty much inscrutable and his music is pretty much unmistakable. Pleiades is that rare beast: a piece composed solely for percussion. Here, the Kroumata Percussion Ensemble builds impenetrable clouds of sound; the patterns click into focus moments before you want to give up. But much like Stockhausen's Stimmung once the percussionists settle into a groove, it immediately begins to unravel, giving Pleiades a sense of continuity and mutability. It's somehow unsettling and comforting — all at once.