As a young architect with Le Corbusier, Xenakis had designed a chapel for the Dominican monks in the famous Couvent de la Tourette in 1954. The chapel became especially notable for his musical panes of glass based on the Fibonacci series which also ordered his first orchestral work, Metastasis.
From the opening phrase of Serment, in which the main structural idea is blithely presented, the work quickly develops towards a colourful weaving of fine textures—solo voices of complex articulation, accompanied by rapidly shifting block sounds. These alternate with broad repetitive sweeps and percussive interjections that serve as textural tufting points. One of the interjections, leaping from the background to the foreground and then back again to pulsate like a war chant, pulls the ensemble together again for a final sweep. Something of the asceticism of monastic life to which he was strongly attracted, tinges the pliant and rigorous aesthetic of this uplifting work.
from notes by Nouritza Matossian © 1998