Messiaen: Fete Des Belles Eaux
Ensemble d’Ondes de Montréal
December 2008 marked the 100th birthdays of two very significant 20th century composers, Olivier Messiaen and Elliott Carter. Carter is still very much alive and continues to make significant contributions to the repertoire. You can read Pamela Margles’ comments on some of his recent works in her review of Ursula Oppens’ recording of his complete (at least to this date) piano works elsewhere in these pages, and next month we will feature a review of Toronto’s New Music Concerts centenary tribute to the American master. As for Messiaen, who died in 1991, there is a wealth of material being released to celebrate his centennial. I would highly recommend La Fête des belles eaux, a new Ensemble d’Ondes de Montréal release (ATMA ACD2 2621). This work is scored for six ondes Martenot, one of the first commercially produced electronic instruments, and one which Messiaen used extensively. Due to the rarity of the ondes this breathtaking work is seldom performed. In addition the CD includes four Feuillets inédits (late, unpublished works) for ondes and piano performed by Estelle Lemire and Louise Bessette and an arrangement of the first movement of Ravel’s String Quartet for four ondes Martenot. I find the haunting sound of the ondes particularly well-suited to Ravel. David Olds.