Xenakis, harpsichord, Fontana

Xenakis' first harpsichord piece, Khoai (1976) breaks with every tradition using performance techniques never to be found on this instrument. With duration of minimum 15 min. it is much longer than most other harpsichord pieces at that time. The title means "offers of water and wine thrown to the earth- vows to the goods" (I.X.). A tonal-like centre established right at the beginning over the bass ton f simulates a feeling of security returning to that note again and again. In the linear movement wide intervals dominate. Repetitions are short. Slowly the formation becomes more and more filled up with new melodic and rhythmic elements leading to a technical complexity never seen in harpsichord music. The continuous and very quick change of registers is possible only with modern harpsichords where registration can be made using pedals. If the piece is performed on a historical copy the player will be forced to ignore a great deal of these indications. Surely they belong to the pieces structure but even when choosing another solution the work does not lose anything of its shape. The piece culminates in furious chords repetitions which seem to blow up the instrument. Khoai requires huge stamina from the performer and the instrument itself. (Andreas Skouras)

Via IlProf1958 (thanks!)

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