Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Orchestral Space - Seiji Ozawa - Takemitsu, Ligeti, Ichiyanagi, Xenakis


These performances were recorded live in May of 1966 at a festival of modern composers' works organized by Ibru Takemitsu and Toshi Ichiyanagi. "Orchestral Space I."as the concerts were called (there have subsequently been others), consisted of three evenings of music, one devoted to chamber music; and two to orchestral compositions. The second day's concert was dedicated "lb the memory of Edgar Varese," who is generally credited as being pre-eminent in pioneering modern and avantgarde techniques. Of the nineteen works performed, nine were by Japanese composers while the remainder were by composers from a variety of other countries. Seven of the European works were world premiere performances. For the concerts. Seiji Ozawa—already caught up in the activities of conducting on an international scale—returned briefly to Japan. as did the pianist featured on this record. Yuji Takahashi. Composer Iannis Xenakis flew from Paris to take part in the festival. This lends added interest to this performance of Strategie, as it was recorded in his presence.

TAKEMITSU Arc, for piano and orchestra
An organizer of "Orchestral Space I." Takemitsu's reputation as one of the most innovative of contemporary composers is secure. Born in Tokyo in 1930, his is a style of composition that does not bow to any "school." About 1948 he decided "that musical composition means to make sense to the 'stream of sounds' penetrating the world around us." Some of his works composed shortly thereafter are characterized by a kind of continually floating sound. Later works have made much of the use of silences—opposed by and combined with vigorous sound structures.
This performance of Arc uses the original score—an augmented version also exists. The piece features various instrumental combination's which are both separate musical entities and portions of a greater whole which interact with one another. The piano is positioned center-stage with, initially, strings and horns grouped around it. The other instruments are divided into four groups surrounding this central nucleus. These groups go their separate ways in terms of tempi, etc.— yet criss-cross and intermingle ("like fish in an aquarium" as the original Japanese notes put it) so that the whole work is more than the sum of its parts. Yet those parts retain their independence as musical "events."
Takemitsu is perhaps best known for the present Arc and for his November Steps (1967) —also recorded by Seiji Ozawa, on RCA Records. Other noted works include: Water Musicfor Magnetic Tape (1960); Cora/ Island. for Soprano and Orchestra (1962); Textures (1964); and the Dorian Horizon,for Seventeen Strings (1966).

LIGETI Atmospheres
Gyorgy Ligeti is a Hungarian composer born in 1923. Since 1956, he has occasionally worked at the West German Radio's Electronic Studio in Cologne; Ligeti has also lectured at the International Ferien Kurse fur Neue Musik at Darmstadt and hasbeen engaged in the new music movement at various places in Europe and the USA. He now lives in Vienna. Atmospheres for orchestra was composed in 1962 on commission from the Southwest German Radio of Baden-Baden, and was first performed at Donaueschingen in October, 1962. under the direction of Hans Rosbaud. Concerning this work, the composer has written as follows: "My most basic aim as a composer is the revivification of the sonorous aspect of musical form. Those factors of contemporary composition which do not manifest themselves directly as acoustical experience seem to me of only secondary importance. However, this emphatically does not mean that I intend to limit myself to the invention of new tone colors or other sound-phenomena. It is much more important to me to discover new musical forms and a new manner of expression.... Tone color, usually a vehicle of musical form, is liberated from form to become an independent entity."
As Ligeti says, Atmospheres demonstrates the tendency of matiere (tone color) to become an independent means of musical expression. Each instrument in the 87-member orchestra is considered independently and produces an individual sound line. Thus various tones and strands of sound, melting and repelling, are mixed together and transformed into a shifting expanse from which not elements but their momentary combination's emerge. The music reverberates in seeming chaos, its substance lithe and intense.
Utilized in the stunning audio-visual conclusion to the film "2001," Atmospheres has gained a popularity far beyond that usually accorded an avant-garde composition. It should be notedthat theversion used in the film was slightly modified, whereas the performance included here is the original.
Atmospheres is dedicated to the memory of the late Hungarian composer, Matyas Seiber.

ICHIYANAGI Life Music, for various modulators, magnetic tape and orchestra (1966)
Ichiyanagi, born in 1933, studied in the United States for nine years, returning to Japan in 1961. Much influenced by composer John Cage, with whom he studied. Ichiyanagi's music has been called "indeterminate" in reference to his emphasis on the "chance" element. The original version of this work was composed on magnetic tape in 1964. In the version recorded here, the taped segments are played through large speakers situated behind the orchestra—which per-forms and interacts with the taped sounds. The "live" performers are picked up by contact microphones attached to their instruments. This is amplified and electronically processed for a modified quality. The result is music consisting of several elements: the unmodified "live" orchestra; that sound mixed with its own processed sounds; and any combination intermixed in continually varying ways. Accompanied by coordinated, shifting light effects on stage, the effect is a striking one. The "chance" element in the music expressed through the use of silences as well as the fluid give-and-take juxtaposition of live, recorded and live/processed sounds.

XENAKIS Stategie, for two conductors and two orchestras Strategie is a unique work in which the composer, Iannis Xenakis, employs a method he calls 'strategie musicale." He applies the mathematical "theory of games" to music in order to demonstrate a logical principle of behavior. Two 44-member orchestras are seated one at the right and the other at the left of the stage. Each conductor chooses one (or two) at a time of the seven sound structures given by the composer (including one of silence). The seven basic sound structures (or "strategies") can be characterized as follows: 0—silence, I—wind instruments, II—percussion. III—striking the bodies of the string instruments, IV—pointillistic string sound, V—string glissandi, and VI—harmonics (winds and strings) with organ points.
These seven strategies have a "stochastic" structure which has been calculated with an IBM 7090 computer. The total number of combination's of the seven strategies for one orchestra comes to 20, consisting of seven independent strategies and thirteen combination's. Accor-dingly, if played by two orchestras, 20 x 20 = 400 combination's are possible.
Each conductor signals his strategy with his hand to his orchestra. An electric scoreboard is set at the end of the stage. Each possible combination has already been assigned points based upon the composer's calculations. So the points acquired by a conductor can be shown at once on the scoreboard by a scorekeeper. Thus two musical teams compete in a game of musical tactics. The audience hears music born of the unpredictable combination of these strategies.
Strategie was composed in 1962 and was first performed at the Venice Festival in 1963 under the direction of B. Madema and K. Simonovic. (Maderna won the game.) At"Orchestral SpaceL"Japanese conductors Seiji Ozawa and Hiroshi Wakasugi competed, with the victory going to Wakasugi. "However," Xenakis says, "a defeated conductor should never be thought inferior to a winning conductor. The latter won the contest only because he was better at following the rules of the game as determined by the composer."

Iannis Xenakis is a Greek composer born in Braila, Roumaniain 1922. He has lived in Paris since 1948. Xenakis studied composition at the Paris Conservatory under Honegger, Milhandand Messiaen. He has also taken an active part in the field of architecture as an avantgarde associate of Le Corbusier. His Philips Pavilion, designed for the Brussels World's Fair, 1958. and other designs following his original concept of space have attracted world-wide attention. —Based upon notes by Kuniharu Akiyama



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