Messiaen’s Love Feast

This past weekend the Cleveland Orchestra performed Olivier Messiaen’s Turangalila-Symphonie, with Franz Welser-Möst (the Orchestra’s Music Director-designate) conducting, and Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano) and Cynthia Millar (Ondes Martenot) as soloists. It was the kind of performance that cause people to stand up and shout spontaneously at the end. It was apparently the first time that Welser-M??st had conducted the piece, but it was well under control. Aimard is phenomenal; no one of our current time plays Messiaen’s piano music with such authority. (Of course, he studied with Yvonne “ten-fingers-of-steel” Loriod, so he learned from the source. Cynthia Millar studied Ondes Martenot with Jeanne Loriod, Yvonne’s sister and Olivier Messiaen’s sister-in-law, so presumably her performance was also authoritative.) Aimard played the whole score from memory. The Ondes Martenot was much more prominent in this performance than in others–it seemed to be an equal soloist with the piano.

Although there were many empty seats at my Friday night subscription performance, the demographic of the audience was younger than usual. These are the “true believers.” I have to think that if the orchestra wants to attract younger future audiences, the way is not via a steady diet of Mozart and Beethoven, but by playing more Messiaen, Boulez, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, John Adams and the others. Franz Welser-M??st is young and attractive himself; he could become the poster boy for getting younger people into Severance Hall.

Here’s the Cleveland Plain Dealer review of Turangalila.

A challenging symphony, mostly captured

Next week is Mahler Symphony No. 2…

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