MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Ascending To The Stars On Messiaen Trek From The Canyons, Illustrated

Former Seattle Symphony music director Ludovic Morlot returned to conduct Messaien’s ‘Des canyons aux étoiles…‘ (Photos by James Holt / Seattle Symphony)

I reviewed an extraordinary (and rare) performance of Messiaen by Ludovic Morlot and Seattle Symphony for Classical Voice America:

SEATTLE — For their recent reunion, Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony put aside the familiar repertoire to offer a program devoted entirely to Olivier Messiaen’s vast, 12-movement work inspired by the landscape of the American West, Des canyons aux étoiles…. The experience was blissfully unique, reminiscent of similarly rare outings during Morlot’s eight-year tenure as music director (2011-19) that have not faded from memory: a riotous Varèse Amériques early on, the collaborations with John Luther Adams, semi-staged Ravel and Stravinsky — and, indeed, other Messiaen performances, including the orchestra’s first encounter with the Turangalîla Symphony….

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Filed under: Ludovic Morlot, Olivier Messiaen, Seattle Symphony

Morlot and SSO Together Again for Epic Messiaen

Ludovic Morlot conducts the Seattle Symphony in The Mayors’ Concert for Ukraine and Refugees Worldwide earlier this year. (James Holt / Seattle Symphony)

Tonight Ludovic Morlot rejoins the Seattle Symphony for the first of two performances of one of Messiaen’s Des canyons aux étoiles… I spoke to the conductor about the program for The Seattle Times:

A new chapter in Ludovic Morlot’s relationship with the Seattle Symphony is underway.

Now holding the title of conductor emeritus, Morlot has chosen some unusual fare for his concerts on June 2 and 4: the orchestral epic “Des canyons aux étoiles …” (“From the Canyons to the Stars …”) by Olivier Messiaen, which will be presented in a multimedia presentation accompanied by video projections by Deborah O’Grady.

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Filed under: Ludovic Morlot, Olivier Messiaen, Seattle Symphony, Seattle Times

Happy Palindrome Day

It’s taken a little over a thousand years to arrive at today’s calendrical palindrome: 02-02-2020. Last time was 11-11-1111–909 years ago (using the eight-digit format).

The French composer Olivier Messiaen found special significance in the palindrome. When looking at the rhythmic parameter, for example, he developed structures based on “non-retrogradable rhythms,” as he termed them.

The German musicologist Siglind Bruhn explores the implications for Messiaen of palindromic structures: “Rhythmic palindromes are interesting above all for their spiritual significance. In the realm of human experience, the irreversibility that defines all acts, be they physical or linguistic, the course of a day or a life, and the expected execution of a plan, are of a quality intrinsically different from reminiscences, regrets, nostalgia, and other acts or feelings turned toward the past.”

from Messiaen’s Contemplations of Covenant and Incarnation

Filed under: miscellaneous, Olivier Messiaen

Turangalîla at Juilliard

Here’s my Juilliard Journal story for the upcoming performance of Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie with David Robertson:

Turangalîla is the work of my life,” Olivier Messiaen wrote in a letter to a young Leonard Bernstein, who was preparing to conduct the world premiere near the end of 1949. Messiaen thanked him in advance for agreeing to take on this formidable challenge, “since I know (having seen you in The Rite of Spring) that you will do it in a way that is marvelous and brilliant.”

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Filed under: Juilliard, Olivier Messiaen

At Seattle Symphony, Cosmic Radiation from Beethoven and Messiaen

sso

The Seattle Symphony, with guest musicians and vocalists, perform works by Messiaen and Beethoven this weekend. (Brandon Patoc)

My Seattle Times review:

In their first program of the new year, Ludovic Morlot, the Seattle Symphony and guests offer an inspired pairing of Beethoven’s immortal Ninth and the spiritually attuned music of Olivier Messiaen.

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Filed under: Beethoven, Olivier Messiaen, review, Seattle Symphony, Seattle Times

A Messiaenic Christmas

Filed under: Christmas, Olivier Messiaen

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