Classical Music Sundays: Metastasis – Iannis Xenakis

Since reading The Rest is Noise I have got more into modernist music, especially the avante-garde of the post-war composers. This is one of my favorite pieces from the period, Iannis Xenakis’s baffling Metastasis. The piece opens with all the instruments playing in unison and slowly breaking apart until each is playing a different note, creating a washed-out wall of noise. The rest of the pieces proceeds with random-sounding noises and tones creating the illusion of a world gone to pieces. Xenakis was heavily influenced by contemporary math and physics, specifically Einstein’s theory of time. Accordingly, Metastasis seems to exist in a period of relative time, where the old notions of linear time moving at a set pace are destroyed. Metastasis also depicts the complexity and randomness of our world, were out of nowhere we are subject to harshness and destruction. But yes, it is an acquired taste.




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