(As part of the 1975 Festival d’Automne à Paris)
From contemporaneous reviews
“Of the resulting 600 scores and 200 tapes 44 scores and 15 tapes were selected. Under the circumstances, it was unlikely that the best would be selected (I consider six scores read in an afternoon a commendable feat of concentration), and most people agreed that the standard of new music played was low. Yet there were few pieces that were actually boring: obviously the selectors had plumped for effective-looking scores with enough textural invention and apparent originality to intrigue the ear. If one was hoping for music of real structural depth, in which many layers of meaning nested above one another, then one was disappointed. But on a ‘lighter’ level there were many things to enjoy.”
— Jonathan Harvey, “The ISCM Festival,”
The Musical Times, Vol. 117, No. 1595 (Jan. 1976), p. 33.
“There were, unfortunately, several organizational problems that detracted from the presentation of music at the festival. Concerts of electronic music were scheduled to begin at 10:30 P.M., immediately after the instrumental music, but they actually began a half hour to an hour later than that, with the result that very few people remained to listen. Although the instrumental music usually attracted a respectable audience of about 500 people, no more than 100 stayed for the electronic music, and many left during the electronic concerts. The order of presentation was almost always changed from that printed on the programs, and announcements of the changes were made only in French before the concerts began so that many people who arrived late did not realize what they were listening to. One of the orchestras scheduled to play went on strike before festival opened, and another group had to be hastily assembled. Great amounts of time were spent arranging chairs and instruments on stage between performances.
“Organizational problems were, however, minimal when compared with musical ones. Apart from some of the repertory pieces, the quality was terrible and easily forgettable. Also, the one-sidedness music was striking. … The most obvious surface characteristic pervading many of the works–both instrumental and electronic–was an interest in extreme complexity of sound materials, achieved simply by piling many sounds on top of one another.”
–Hubert S. Howe, “The 1977 ISCM World Music Days,”
Perspectives of New Music, Vol. 13, No. 2 (Spring – Summer, 1975), p. 204.
“C’est la formule même de ce Festival qui est en cause : la sélection ne peut se faire que sur des œuvres envoyées par les sections nationales, les compositeurs, les éditeurs, etc. La commission chargée du choix (présidée cette année par Xenakis, avec notamment Donatoni, Halffter et Tremblay) ne peut évidemment insuffler du génie à des œuvres qui n’en ont pas. Et pourtant elle avait à sa disposition pas moins de six cents partitions et deux cents bandes magnétiques ! Il est vrai que l’image de marque de la S.I.M.C. étant ce qu’elle est, les vrais compositeurs préfèrent de beaucoup être joués à Royan ou Donaueschingen que de se noyer dans un magma d’œuvres sans talent.”
(“It is the very formula of this Festival that is at issue: the selection can only be made from works sent by national sections, composers, publishers, etc. The commission in charge of the selection (chaired this year by Xenakis, with Donatoni, Halffter and Tremblay, among others) cannot, of course, instill genius into works that have none. The commission in charge of the selection (chaired this year by Xenakis, with Donatoni, Halffter and Tremblay among others) cannot obviously breathe genius into works that do not have any. And yet it had at its disposal no less than six hundred scores and two hundred tapes! It is true that the brand image of the S.I.M.C. being what it is, the true composers prefer to be played in Royan or Donaueschingen than to drown in a magma of works without talent.”)
— Jacques Lonchampt, “Le naufrage de la S.I.M.C.,”
Le Monde, 28 October 1975
(translated from French with the assistance of www.DeepL.com)