artistic research: Keren from Iannis Xenakis
Like a good deal of compositions by Xenakis, Keren presents the performer with many impossibilities: phrases that are too long for one breath, the lack of rests (there is only a single 16th note rest notated), etc. These problems need creative solutions which the player addresses based on knowledge, objectives, and personality. Having listened to countless performances from dozens of players, taught the work for the past 30 years, and performed it myself since 1989, I feel I have now found an approach in which I can reconcile my respect for the composition and the realities of performing it. This includes a strict tempo, a literal realization of the dynamics as possible, and – perhaps most importantly – interpreting the commas (breath marks) as added time. Since all most players, I have experienced added time, such as when changing the mutes, before and after difficult passages, and simply when they get tired in the end, I suggest interpreting the commas as added time right from the beginning. This sets a tone for the audience and expectations for the music to come. However, the long 32nd note passages still remain impossible to play as a soloist without taking a few breaths and thus breaking the flow.
Together with Stephen Menotti, I performed an interpretation of this work for two trombones in Zürich on the 17th of September. A pdf of the version can be downloaded here under "etc" > "resource".