Angela Hewitt / Valérie Hartmann-Claverie / Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra / Hannu Lintu MESSIAEN Turangalîla-Symphonie

With the growing number of performances and recordings, Olivier Messiaen's Turangalîla-symphonie has become his best-known orchestral work and something of a hit, if such an expansive and influential work can be narrowly categorized as such. Cast in ten movements for piano, ondes Martenot (an instrument similar to the theremin), and large orchestra, with many recurring themes and motives, Turangalîla-symphonie is a cyclic meditation inspired by Indian mysticism, as suggested by the composite title, which Messiaen translated as, "All at the same time song of love, hymn to joy, time, movement, rhythm, life, and death." This performance by Hannu Lintu and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, featuring Angela Hewitt on piano and Valérie Hartmann-Claverie on ondes Martenot, is an excellent presentation, full of vibrant sonorities and vigorous playing, all captured in Ondine's spacious multichannel recording. The hybrid SACD format offers the best way to appreciate Turangalîla, because the massive orchestra should be heard with all its parts distinctly separated, rather than as a thick, homogenous mass, and this recording brings great clarity to all the moving parts. But even more important than the internal details are the shockingly vivid tone colors, which are among the most exciting in 20th century orchestral music. In this area, Lintu draws out the most sharply defined sounds, and pays special attention to Messiaen's lush string and wind textures and sharply accented percussion. Highly recommended to newcomers and Messiaen aficionados alike. (

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