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Messiaen: Turangalîla Symphony, Etc / Wit, Weigel, Et Al

Release Date: 10/17/2000 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8554478-79   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Olivier Messiaen
Performer:  Thomas BlochFrançois Weigel
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 47 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Magnificent! Antoni Wit's new recording of Messiaen's phantasmagoric Turangalila Symphony may lack the extreme orchestral virtuosity of versions by Previn, Chailly, or Salonen, but it beats them all in sheer musicality and fidelity to the composer's minutely specified instructions. Consider three quick examples. First, virtually all performances make a huge pause before the introduction of the "flower" theme, but Wit notices that Messiaen has indicated only a brief comma, or "breath pause". Second, all three alternative versions listed above play the finale at close to the tempo of the fifth movement "Joy of the Blood of the Stars", though Messiaen's designation for
Read more this movement is "Moderately, almost lively, with great joy." And that's exactly what we get here. Wit's slower tempo gives the piece the symphonic weight that it needs to conclude this great cycle of 10 movements, while the ability to take in all of its fantastic detail reduces the excitement not one bit--just the opposite, in fact. Finally, the way that Wit hangs onto that last luminous chord, with the percussion crescendo approaching the threshold of pain, proves that he understands the music's spirit as much as he strictly obeys the composer's instructions.

Following the score along with this performance is an incredible delight. Wit ensures that Messiaen's rhythms sound with exceptional clarity: the interplay of woodblock, maracas, cymbals, tambourine, drums, and chimes never has made more musical sense. He balances the textural complexities of the three "love song" movements, especially "Development of Love", with a supernatural sense of where the primary melodic threads lie. The fulsome, swooning, lyrical themes have just the right ecstatic intensity, the Ondes Martenot adding its characteristically sexy voice without undue spotlighting, thereby avoiding blatant vulgarity. And yet, as the Fifth movement clearly shows, Wit can whip up as big a frenzy as any of the competition, and his players respond with total commitment and a real sense of exhilaration. François Weigel, a student both of the composer and his wife, Yvonne Loriod, makes a splendid piano soloist, as technically secure and musically knowing as any.

The coupling is much more than a mere makeweight. Turangalila seems to have overtaken L'ascension as the composer's most popular work, but it's great to have a new version of this early masterpiece available in such idiomatic and secure hands. Once again, Wit offers a near-perfect performance, from the brightly toned trumpets of the third movement "Alléluia" to the serene string textures of the finale "Prayer of Christ Rising Towards His Father". The Naxos recording sounds very natural; anyone who has heard these works performed live will recognize immediately the realistic balances and faithfully captured tone colors. In sum, this set represents a tremendous achievement. Everyone concerned has done themselves proud.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

Turangalîla-Symphonie by Olivier Messiaen
Performer:  Thomas Bloch (Ondes Martenot), François Weigel (Piano)
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1946-1948; France 
Date of Recording: 12/1998 
Venue:  Fitelberg Concert Hall, Katowice, Poland 
Length: 80 Minutes 45 Secs. 
L'Ascension for Orchestra by Olivier Messiaen
Conductor:  Antoni Wit
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1933; France 
Date of Recording: 1998 
Venue:  Fitelberg Concert Hall, Katowice, Poland 
Length: 26 Minutes 30 Secs. 

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