Salonen Conducts Messiaen's 'Turangalîla-Symphonie'

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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Composer Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) The iconic French composer Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) (Malcolm Crowthers)

As part of the New York Philharmonic's Messiaen week, the orchestra performed Olivier Messiaen's monumental Turangalîla-Symphonie. Tune in at 9 pm Thursday to hear the recorded performance, featuring pianist Yuja Wang and ondes martenot player Valérie Hartman-Clavarie, on the theremin-like instrument.

The composer and critic Virgil Thomson wrote of the Turangalîla-Symphonie that it “shows the determination to produce somewhere in every piece an apotheosis destined at once to open up the heavens and to bring down the house.” The title is based on two Sanskrit words: Turanga (time) and lîla (play), but the scope of the symphony is much broader. The 75-minute work was inspired in part by the Tristan and Isolde myth, as well as all types of love.

Program Details:

Conductor: Esa-Pekka Salonen
Soloists: Yuja Wang, piano
              Valérie Hartman-Clavarie, Ondes Martenot

Messiaen: Turangalîla-Symphonie

Comments [1]

Les from Miami, Florida

Like the previous week's airing of Pierre Boulez conducting the Mahler Third Symphony, this performance of Messiaen's "Turangali^la-Symphonie" should also be issued on New York Philharmonic Special Editions for purchase. My most superficial and obvious reaction is how marvelously the ensemble was together in all unison passages: no premature attacks or releases. The initial hearing of the "statue theme" was more legato than in other performances I've heard; and the gamelan orchestra effects (celesta, vibraphone, piano, etc.) in the "Garden of Love's Sleep" seemed a bit too prominent for an accompaniment. Also, the long crescendi that end "Joy of the Stars' Blood" and the Finale were breathtaking in their length. Those superficial observations aside, the complexity and virtuosity demanded of everyone in the 10 movements were always in service of the expressivity --- and, to the ecstasy --- of each. Lacking an orchestra score, I followed Messiaen's program notes for each movement. Parenthetically, YouTube has a 26-minute rehearsal of "Garden of Love's Sleep" and "Joy of the Stars' Blood" --- reverse of their performance order --- by Leonard Bernstein and the Boston Symphony Orchestra for the 1949 premiere that they gave, Serge Koussevitzky, the work's commissioner, having fallen ill.

May. 15 2016 02:05 PM

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