July 08, 2008

Xenakis – Naama


Naama is a keyboard work by Xenakis.

One way that the musical ideas interact in the work is by an accommodation of their rhythms. The problem of accommodation is solved by contorting, extending and breaking these rhythms.

I feel like the musical ideas would rather live separately but they are being forced to occupy the same space. The ideas confront each other and weave intricate dances. At times a rigid compromise is imposed, the ideas are forced into a single expression, but this decays to silence.

I enjoy the shock of hearing the chaos and freedom of this music. Though I grow more comfortable with it each time I listen, each time I learn more about how the pieces fit together.

I’d love to hear a different performer interpret this work.

March 17, 2006


I’d recently wondered if Tippett’s operas were an influence on Turnage’s ‘Greek’. At least, I could hear an influence there. Greek is an opera about 1980’s Britain from the point of view of a working class family, (poverty , ignorance, rioting), there is a greek chorus which has a similar feel to a construction in Tippett’s ‘King Priam.’

In King Priam, the chorus is following the story with us, but is not personally affected by the outcome. A similar thing is occurs in Britten’s ‘the Rape of Lucretia,’ where the chorus consists of a male and a female. The male knows the outcome of the story but the female does not. In any case they are telling a story but are not affected by its outcome. (I do not consider the inclusion of a ridiculous Christian revelation affecting the chorus at the end of Lucretia plausible).

In Greek, the chorus which is influenced in the same way by a greek chorus, is part of the story. They are affected by the events in the opera, but what influence do they have?

I struggled with Greek till I was aware of the Tippett connection, somehow it did not seem serious enough. I saw Turnage speak about his music a few years ago and since then I carried a prejudice against him for his eclecticism. But Greek is shocking, deep and important.

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