Overture Magazine - 2018-19 Season BSO_Overture_JanFeb_19 | Page 16

TURANGALÎLA-SYMPHONIE Magnifi que 10% o dinner ch ff with thea eck ter ticket. 904 N Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21201 Bistro: 410-385-9946 Catering: 410-385-9956 Fax: 410-385-9958 marielouisebistrocatering. com RE: O T S O E BS TH t gifts • Grea lry ul jewe f i t u a e • B ’s a Alsop ography r t s e a • M te disc en comple r childr o f s k o c bo • Musi e! ch mor u m d n • A Contact us at 410.783.8160 or [email protected] 14 OV E R T U R E / BSOmusic.org the game of life and death. Lîla is also Love. Turanga is time that flies like a galloping horse, time that runs out like sand from an hour-glass. Turanga is movement and rhythm. Hence Turangalîla means altogether: song of love, hymn to joy, time, movement, rhythm, life and death.” There are additional ways in which the symphony reflects Eastern concepts. The intricate rhythmic patterns Messiaen used were built up from traditional Indian ragas and the ancient Sarngadeva rhythmic formulas. The composer referred to portions of the very large percussion section as the “gamelan,” evoking the beautiful bell-like ensembles used in Balinese and Javanese music. Furthermore, the explicit eroticism of the symphony’s “Love” movements seems inspired by Indian temple art, in which the physical and the spiritual are unashamedly combined. Very French is the addition of the ondes Martenot, an electronic keyboard instrument invented by Maurice Martenot in 1928. Its slides, whoops and eerily human singing add unique color to the orchestra and a quality of surrealism — a sonic equivalent to the contemporary art of Salvador Dalí. LISTENING TO THE MUSIC Turangalîla is made up of ten extended movements. Four of them are ecstatically melodic “Love” (“Amour”) movements, and three are the “Turangalîla” movements, focusing on intense rhythmic developments and the darker forces in the world that threaten “Love.” These are intermingled with an introduction, a brilliant scherzo movement in the center and a joyous finale. Introduction: This movement serves as a prelude to the entire work, introducing us to two of the major themes that will appear throughout, as well as to the many performers. The first theme we meet is an angular, virile motive announced loudly by the trombones; Messiaen called it the “Statue” theme because it reminded him of “the heavy, terrifying brutality of old Mexican monuments.” The much quieter second theme is presented by two clarinets; Messiaen called this the “Flower” theme. Chant d’amour 1: Messiaen describes the first of the “Love” movements: “It alternates two elements totally contrasted in tempo, nuance, and feeling. The first is a quick motive, strong and passionate, played by trumpets. The second element is slow and tender, played by the ondes Martenot and strings.” Though the symphony’s third major theme, the “Love” theme, has not yet fully emerged, we hear hints of it here. Turangalîla 1: This is the first of the highly rhythmic “Time” movements. It begins very softly with a cool, winding theme shared by the clarinet and the ondes. Contrasted against it is a loud, threatening idea in trombones, ondes and percussion. Yet a third theme later appears in the oboe over delicate percussion. All these ideas are then stridently and dramatically superimposed before a dreamlike coda. Chant d’amour 2: Messiaen called this movement a scherzo with two trio sections, but this music is really far more elaborate. The opening scherzo theme is a quirky melody combining shrill piccolo with a bassoon far below. A passionate, almost swooning melody is proclaimed by the ondes, and the orchestra opens the first trio section; it is another forerunner of the “Love” theme. Played by just five violins and cello, the next trio melody is soft and mysterious. In a later section, you’ll also hear the piano and vibraphone adding Messiaen’s beloved birdsong to this exotic mix. Joie du sang des étoiles: Messian noted that: “In order to understand the extravagance of this piece, it must be understood that the union of the two lovers is for them a transformation… on a cosmic scale.” The main theme is a lively new version of the “Statue” theme. The middle trio section is a wild orgy of rhythm topped by the whoops of the ondes. The movement closes with a spectacular piano cadenza and a gigantic crescendo on the “Statue” theme. Jardin du sommeil d’amour: This is the symphony’s slow movement and its most serene and beautiful. Messiaen described it as “the two lovers are immersed in the sleep of love. …The garden that surrounds them