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The Listener

A thrilling new recording of Messiaen's Turangalila-Symphonie

17 February 2024

9:00 AM

17 February 2024

9:00 AM

Grade: A

Pierre Boulez once called Messiaen’s giant Turangalila-Symphonie ‘brothel music’. That was mean-spirited but you knew what he meant: a typical performance comes in at just under 80 minutes, much of it consisting of the B-movie sound of an ondes Martenot wailing over lush harmonies. There’s a constant zig-zag of polyrhythms, plus great towers of brass that represent ‘the heavy, terrifying brutality of old Mexican monuments’ – but, yes, it can hang around like cheap scent.

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