Alsop on the Baltimore Symphony’s first-ever “Turangalîla-Symphonie”

Posted on: January 14, 2019

“ ‘My own latest discovery is the Turangalîla-Symphonie, a mind-blowing 75-minute orchestral piece by Olivier Messiaen … that I have never even heard performed live,’ ” says Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Music Director Marin Alsop on Saturday (1/12) in an interview at National Public Radio. “This week marks the BSO premiere of the work…. Turangalîla is scored for a very large orchestra, plus solo instruments…. The odd early electronic instrument called the ondes martenot … plays a key role…. Messiaen’s music exudes a kind of spiritual ecstasy…. Human love and divine love were not opposites for him, but stages in a progression…. He used pentatonic and octatonic scales, evoking the sound world of the Far East. But it was the Hindu rhythmic structures called talas that really drew him in…. In Turangalîla, his eclectic interests and influences result in repetitions, sudden shifts of tempo and overlapping ideas. Combined with the otherworldly sound of the ondes martenot, he creates a totally distinctive musical vocabulary. Turangalîa is a combination of Sanskrit words…. Turangalîa, Messiaen once wrote, ‘means, all at the same time, song of love, hymn to joy, time, movement, rhythm, life and death.’ As you can tell, nothing is simple with Messiaen!”

Posted January 14, 2019