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23.12.08

Messiaen for the New Year: Ondes Martenot Sextet

Available from Amazon
Messiaen, La Fête des Belles Eaux (inter alia), Ensemble d'Ondes de Montréal

(released November 18, 2008)
Atma Classique ACD2 2621
We have been happily observing the Olivier Messiaen Centenary this fall, with reviews of the Quatuor pour la fin du temps, the Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant-Jésus, and even a high ranking for the Messiaen Complete Edition from DG by Jens. To take you into the new year in a celestial frame of mind, a few other discs have come across my desk recently that may be of interest. The first is this release from the Ensemble d'Ondes de Montréal, the only recording available of Messiaen's first work for Ondes Martenot (except on the above-mentioned complete set from DG). For the 1937 World's Fair in Paris (also when Picasso's Guernica was exhibited in the Spanish Pavilion), Messiaen was one of twenty composers commissioned to provide music for a nighttime display of fireworks and artificial water geysers along the Seine. He wrote La Fête des Belles Eaux, a substantial work for an ensemble of six of the new electronic instruments, then less than a decade since its invention. This intriguing, at times mind-blowing disc shows Messiaen exploring the entire range of the Ondes Martenot, which can apparently sound like any number of other instruments: flute, recorder, bamboo whistle, bassoon, bass clarinet, celesta, strings, electric guitar, organ. It also includes the four Feuillet inédits, for Ondes Martenot and piano (posthumously published, for Messiaen's second wife, Yvonne Loriod, and her sister Jeanne Loriod, a famous ondist), and a pleasing, somewhat space-musicky arrangement of the first movement of Ravel's F major string quartet for four Ondes Martenot (made by Ginette Martenot, sister of the instrument's inventor).

55'11"


Jean Laurendeau gives a demonstration of the Ondes Martenot

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