Xenakis: Pléiades & Persephassa

Digital / Théâtre de Haute Percussions de Strasbourg Outhere / Believe Digital / Théâtre de Hautepierre / 2021

Album selected by France Musique 

“This recording in itself defines the ensemble in its cohesion, its willingness, its imagination, its enthusiasm and its talent. Between the historical recordings of the 1970s and today, there is only one short step, which builds on those trodden by the four generations that have played a part in this wild adventure, one further step like a baton passed down from generation to generation, if only to ensure that the movement initiated by all the composers who have written for the Percussions de Strasbourg, Iannis Xenakis high among them, will never stop.”


CD and digital release on January 28, 2022 – Pre-order !

1 Pléiades – Mélanges – 08:31
2 Pléiades – Claviers – 09:43
3 Pléiades – Métaux – 13:14
4 Pléiades – Peaux – 11:06
5 Persephassa – 29:02

Pléiades, writing multitude

«When playing Pléiades, we are immediately transported, as if swept up by these rhythms pushing us forward. It is an immediate jubilation of sound, rhythm, and movement. When one movement stops, another takes over, a rhythm is established and as though through a magnifying glass, we step into its complexity where we discover a scattering of the initial beat, of which some original elements remain here and there, disappearing progressively to give way to new spaces. Richness and profusion of colours, movements and rhythms, Pléiades is all of these at once.(…) »

Jean Geoffroy

Persephassa, writing chaos

«The first few bars say it all, everything is concentrated here: the power of the sound, its complexity, but above all its relation to space. The musicians find themselves the instrument of a mechanism which appears relentlessly vertical, made of clashes and contrasts. As soon as it is played, each beat or rhythm is immediately contradicted, stopped dead, be it by other rhythms or other tempi, sometimes very progressively when each musician plays on a different beat, sometimes in a more sudden manner through complex rhythmical superpositions, as if each new idea scarcely pronounced could no longer follow its own development. The strength of this work does not come from the power of the performers per se, but from the multitude of temporal distortions generated by these polyrhythms.
[…] Recording Persephassa is a challenge in itself as this piece is above all an intimate adventure to be experienced with closed eyes from the centre of the setup. The concept is to put the listener “conductor” in the centre, surrounded by six percussion sets. The listener can either intentionally seek out one sound or another or let themselves be taken by surprise by sounds as they appear in front, to the side or from behind. To take advantage of this privileged position, the use of headphones is recommended for a full immersion.»

Jean Geoffroy


La Croix – Bruno Serrou, February 25, 2022

A centenary for a sixtieth anniversary… In order to celebrate their 60 years of existence, the Percussions de Strasbourg release a great record, fully Xenakis. The band performs Pléiades and Persephassa, the latter – known for its cinematographic sound quality – having been ordered by the Percussions de Strasbourg in 1968. Eight years later, a new order will come : Xenakis would then deliver his fabulous Pléiades, whose sophistication and inspiration are simply stunning.

Le Monde Pierre Gervasoni, February 28, 2022

Hsin-Hsuan Wu, a young Taiwanese woman who joined the prestigious Percussions de Strasbourg in 2017, perceives the record differently. “To me, Pleiades could be seen as six stars travelling across a galaxy” she confesses, while « it’s the voice of the Earth that’s rising from Persephassa” , the other piece for six percussions sets, which has been masterfully restituted by the Percussions de Strasbourg in the CD-Booklet that commemorates their sixitieth anniversary, in 2022.

Le Figaro —  Thierry Hillériteau, February 11, 2022

The sixtieth anniversary of the Percusssions de Strasbourg. The band, as a loyal collaborator and servant of Xenakis’ music since the 1970s, celebrates the composer’s genius and its 60 years of creation in a magnificent CD-Booklet, which is dedicated to Pléiades and Persephassa (Outhere Music).

Resmusica — Michèle Tosi, February 12, 2022

The team has been completely renewed but the two pieces, Persephassa (1969), and Pléiades (1979), are inscribed inside the phalanx’s repertoire. They have often been played and played again, and have been recorded several times, with this “evolution of how a score is viewed”, evoked by distingued percussionist Jean Geoffroy in the pages of the CD-booklet. But this evolution also palpable through the masterful and skilful playing of the instruments with which, forty years later, the six musicians tackle the two scores.

CadencesÉlise Guignard, March 2022, issue #352

Since 1962, the Percussions de Strasbourg have been playing a proeminent role in the world of musical creation.

Crescendo — Alex Quitin, Februrary 16, 2022

The record is a real achievement. After all, what better band to play Persephassa and Pléiades than the Percussions de Strasbourg themselves? The playing is clear, the nuances have been pushed to the limits, the rhythms are precise… They are percussionists of great talent and experience, and the virtuosity that they deploy in some passages on the score is breahtaking. They are taking us through an astounding journey of sounds and pay tribute to Iannis Xenakis.

France MusiqueJanuary 28, 2022

The story of an exceptional encounter between a composer and a band.

ConcertClassic.com — Alain Cochard, March 15, 2022

“The truth remains that if there were one French band that would dominate all the others for this Xenakis celebration, it would be without a doubt the Percussions de Strasbourg.” […] With 400 pieces created within sixty years, the band can boast about having written an essential and truly groundbreaking chapter of the History of Music.”

As a complete musical as well as editorial achievement, the CD-booklet, which was released a few weeks ago reunites Pléiades and Persephassa […] With Franck Rossi alonsgisde Jean Geoffroy for the mixing and the sound editing, the Xenakis record of the Percus establishes itself among the greatest releases of the beginning of this year, and promises to stay a reference for a very long while.”

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