BY MADELINE ROYCROFT
Australian World Orchestra
Turangalîla-Symphonie by Messiaen
Hamer Hall, 31 July
Messaien’s Turangalîla-Symphonie belongs to a special category of 20th Century repertoire where, if you’re seeing it live, you want to be blown away. You want your socks to be knocked off, and you want to leave the concert feeling dazed and speechless.
With expert guidance from Simone Young AM, this is precisely what the Australian World Orchestra achieves in its recent execution of the monumental work, in collaboration with young musicians from the Australian National Academy of Music.
A defining feature of the Turangalîla is its integration of the ondes Martenot, an early electronic instrument nowadays reserved for sci-fi films and Radiohead album tracks. In several spine-tingling blends with upper voices from the string, wind and brass families, soloist Jacob Abela takes the unusual instrument beyond its characteristic swooping lines and highlights its expressive capability. Similarly enthralling is pianist Timothy Young, who matches the thunderous energy of an 100-strong ensemble throughout virtuosic solo passages.
But the evening’s greatest pleasure is watching Simone Young in her element, dancing through the displaced rhythms of the Chant d’amour and masterfully extracting every inch of sound the players have to offer. At the final pause of the Joie du sang des etoiles, the atmosphere of Hamer Hall is so electric that the audience—who are undoubtedly well versed in classical music etiquette—simply cannot hold their applause.
In its 10 movements and at 80 minutes long, having no program ‘fillers’ was a wise choice. The Turangalîla is a symphony that speaks for itself, and if the persistent standing ovation at the end is anything to go by, this rare Australian performance will certainly be a memorable one.
Image supplied. Credit: Anna Kucera.