Xenakis: Charisma X

Iannis Xenakis

(1922-2001)


mode 218

DVD Video

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Mode Records - A Record Label Devoted to New Music CHARISMA X

Greece, 2008
a film directed by Efi Xirou

produced by Gina Petropoulou with Vox-documentaries, Greek Film Centre, ERT

COMPOSERS:
George Aperghis Francois-Bernard Mache Gerard Pape
Curtis Roads George Koumentakis
FEATURING:
Francois Xenakis (Author & Xenakis’wife) Makis Solomos Sharon Kanach
Makhi Xenakis Roviros Manthoulis
Live Musical excerpts performed by
Sylvio Gualda, percussion (Psappha) Elisabeth Chojnacka, harpsichord (Naama) Benny Sluchin, trombone (Keren)
Frances-Marie Uitti, cello (Charisma) Lori Freeman, clarinet (Charisma) Christophe Roy, cello (Nomos Alpha)
Spiro Sakkas, voice (Oresteia)



Charisma X follows the life of Iannis Xenakis from childhood through his final composition, Omega. Musicologist Makis Solomos guides us through Xenakis’ key periods and accomplishments interspersed with musical performances and comments from those who knew or worked with Xenakis, giving an overview of his personal life and careers in music and architecture.

Xenakis appears in historical footage:
- Talking about his multimedia electronic work La Legende d’Eer, with film of the performance and the Diatope in front of the Pompidou Centre.
- Demonstrating the UPIC, the computer which he designed that allows music to be drawn on a computer screen.
- Speaking about his opera Oresteia and various Greek legends which influenced his work.

It explores the relationship between his music and architecture, including working for Le Corbusier.

Charisma X explores his architectural achievements of the Philips Pavilion at Expo 58, the convent of La Tourette, his home in Corsica, and the houses he designed for his daughter Makhi and composer Mache are shown.


REVIEWS:

XENAKIS: Charisma X; a film by Efi Xirou
Iannis Xenakis, Sylvio Gualda, Elisabeth Chojnacka, Benny Sluchin, Frances-Marie Uitti, Lori Freedman, etc

Mode 218 (NTSC system; PCM audio; 16:9 picture format)  62:00 mins

Performance: Four and a half stars
Picture & Sound: Five stars

Devotees of Mode’s Xenakis Edition will be delighted in Vol 12, a DVD release of Efi Xirou’s 2008 documentary Charisma X about the Greek composer, architect, and theorist. Charisma itself is the title of a 1971 work for clarinet and cello that is performed on camera throughout the documentary, along with brief excerpts from other chamber works, often in evocative locations, none of which are identified. Archival footage of the composer speaking on his works, as well as tantalizing glimpses of such massive spectacles as the 1977 Diatope at the Pompidou Centre and the opera Oresteia, are interspersed with revealing interviews with those who not only lived with the composer (his wife and daughter), but who fought alongside him in the Greek resistance.

Observations by the composer’s wife that Xenakis paid no heed to weather reports when planning travel, expecting the weather to follow his commands, and that he was attracted to her small breasted figure because it reminded him of ancient Greek figures are intrinsically amusing, but viewers with little or no awareness of Xenakis or his music will have a hard time putting these reminiscences into an appropriate biographical or historical context. Despite the presence of a narrator little attempt is made to weld these fragments into a cohesive narrative, thereby missing a golden opportunity to extend awareness of one of the most original musical minds of the 20th century beyond his fan club. Worth a look, even if many viewers will also have to make a trip to the library or internet.

— Howard Goldstein, BBC Music Magazine

 

 

Related Resources:
Iannis Xenakis Profile & Discography
Efi Xirou

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