Thankfully the CD format can still surprise and delight. This handsome book format box of Iannis' Xenakis' chamber music has just been released by French label Naïve. As well as 2 CDs of re-released recordings by the Arditti Quartet and Claude Helffer the added value package includes a 47 page bi-lingual (English and French) book with an excellent essay on music and mathematics by Harry Halbriech plus a discography. And if that was not enough to surprise and delight, the box is retailing internationally for less than a full price CD. I paid 16.99 euros in FNAC in Paris, but prices are even lower online. It is one in a series of fifteen newly released disc and book boxes from Naïve. Xenakis' chamber music offers wonderfully chewy music in definitive performances captured in excellent sound. And the imaginatively hyphenated typography has created the new game seen below, guess the composer.
So what about that Xenakis and Zen headline? Wasn't John Cage influenced by Eastern philosophies and Xenakis by mathematical theory? Yes, quite so. But the rules governing the use of zero appeared for the first time in Brahmagupta's book Brahmasputhasiddhanta (The Opening of the Universe) written around 628. Brahmagupta was a Hindu mathematician and astronomer who is often referred to as the father of algebra. In Zen Practice no meaning has great meaning, and is sometimes called zero mind. So, once again paths converge. As they do in the Arditti's recording of Jonathan Harvey's Buddhist influenced Fourth Quartet, and as they do when Xenakis composes in glass.
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