22. August 2007 · Comments Off · Categories: Ramble

From a blog (with no direct link—don’t want to actually single out the person):

The Turangalîla Symphony is unique among all the works of Messiaen in that it is the only one that doesn’t suck.¹ I tried to be generous in my overview of the 2006 Seattle Symphony season and described Messiaen’s L’Ascension as polarizing, reserving the possibility that somebody might actually like it. (Nobody in my group did.)

But Turangalîla is different somehow. Not only does it not suck, it’s actually pretty neat.

Well that explains it all, I’m sure. ;-)

(Yeah, I’m just having fun here. I’m sure the blogger is a great guy and probably even has good reasons for not liking what he doesn’t like. But “suck” and “neat” don’t help explain why, really.)

I’ve never played any Messiaen. Not one thing. Maybe it needs to be played by younger folk? (I did spot a few gray haired ringers in the group, unless they just look prematurely old.) The video … oh dear … hopping back and forth rhythmically between the tuba and strings at one point was not only dizzying, but annoying. But it did make me laugh. Then, at about 5:05, they do the same thing between the Martinot and the flutes.

Anyone know if this work is scored for this size of an orchestra? I see 10 horns, I think, 7 trombones and 8 trumpets. I can spot 7 clarinets and at least as many in the flute section.

Pretty fine group of kiddos playing this thing, though! I’ve not heard San Francisco Youth Symphony in ages, but I know the other groups I’ve heard couldn’t tackle this piece.

If I’m remembering correctly Dan and I went to UCSC back in 1974 to hear Messiaen. (Dan, can you verify this?) I believe he played some piano works. Isn’t it pathetic that I’m not certain of the experience, though? Sigh. It was a long time ago … as if I can use that as an excuse. Double sigh.

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