Friday, 20 June 2008

Concert: Olivier Messiaen - Turangalîla-Symphonie

Location: Het Concertgebouw, Amsterdam
Time and date: 20h15, 19/06/2008
Orchestra: Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest
Conductor: Mariss Jansons
Pianist: Jean-Yves Thibaudet
Program: Olivier Messiaen - Turangalîla-symphonie

A very convincing performance of this amazing symphonie by the Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest. The concert hall was strangely decorated with three monochrome square panels (red, yellow and blue), and the lighting was slightly changed during the concert, alternating between these three colors and bright white. I do now know if there was any specific connection between the colors and the movements being played, though I highly doubt it—Messiaen’s color descriptions are generally complex and even tridimensional. Additionally, a few rectangular mirrors were also hanging from the ceiling, above the audience. These oscillated lightly during the performance, causing somewhat disturbing light projections on the walls of the hall. However, the quality and brilliance of the Turangalîla is at such high level that it can hardly be influenced by any of this.
The performance was good, generally light and bright. Jean-Yves Thibaudet seemed to hurry slightly ahead of the orchestra at times, and there were some minor synchronization problems in the opening movement. The last movement was played considerably fast, with perhaps a slight loss of clarity. But overall, Mariss Jansons presented us with a very pleasant and exciting performance.

For some reason, the name of the ondes Martenot player is not referred in the website of the Concertgebouw, which I find slightly annoying, since now I cannot give her the deserved credit for the performance.

This work, part of the Holland Festival, will be repeated tomorrow and Saturday, also at the Concertgebouw. Another chance to watch it is at Barbican London next week. In case you are not familiar with it yet, buy it and/or read its description in Wikipedia. Both links contain sound samples.

The Messiaen centenary is definitely a good thing (Messiaen was born in 1908). Not only the Turangalîla was performed several times (I had already attended a previous performance), but also several other works, including La Transfiguration de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ and the staging of his Saint François d’Assise opera!

This post is the first of what I hope will be a series regarding modern classical music concerts I attended.

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