Sunday, May 15, 2022

Olivier Messiaen's “Des Canyons aux Étoiles” at Seattle Symphony: Jun 2 & 4

Returning after his tenure concluded with the 2019 season, Ludovic Morlot will be conducting another rarity from the body of Olivier Messiaen's haunting and beautiful works, with “Des Canyons aux Étoiles” at Seattle Symphony the first week of June. It is worth noting that, as was the case for the St. Lois Symphony, for this performance Messiaen's musical vision will be additionally enhanced by projections from Deborah O'Grady. Seattle Symphony is itself rebounding from a series of setbacks at the beginning of the year, with a 2022 calendar that promises the usual abundance of classics and a measure of modern contemporary work. Ludovic Morlot's tenure as music director and conductor concluded with the arrival of his successor, Thomas Dausgaard for the 2019-2020 season, and saw the realization of a final set of projects Morlot had envisioned. These included the staging of Heiner Goebbels' "Surrogate Cities", and the inaugural event at the state-of-the-art Octave 9: Raisbeck Music Center. This opening was billed as a Contemporary Music Marathon spanning 24h hours, featuring exclusively the work of modernist, New Music, and avant-garde composers. While 2019 marked the end of his tenure at Seattle Symphony, since his arrival in 2011 Ludovic Morlot launched numerous modern music initiatives. Alex Ross positing that from the week of his debut, the conductor not only stepping out with a strong start musically, but a reshaping of the orchestra's image, effectively and in many ways, the "Symphony’s New Leader Took Seattle by Storm". Not least among his accomplishments, the late-night [untitled] chamber music series which reintroduced contemporary works back into the symphony's lexicon, after almost a decade of being remiss. Morlot also brought a higher profile and further prestige to the city with his commissioning of "John Luther Adams Pulitzer Prize Winning 'Become Ocean'" which was recorded with the Seattle Symphony in 2013. As well as the premiere of "Become Desert" in 2018, which completed Adams' cycle. Yet the seasonal [untitled] program may prove to be Morlot's greatest contemporary music contribution during his tenure. The series' installments cumulatively reading as who's-who of 20th and 21st Century avant-garde and modernist visionaries. Included in its breadth were such works by such notable (and rarely performed) composers as George Crumb, György Ligeti, Iannis Xenakis, John Cage, Terry Riley and Giacinto Scelsi. Other high points include 2015's performance of Karlheinz Stockhausen's groundbreaking electro-acoustic, "Gesang der Jünglinge", and the series' initiation with the realization of Olivier Messiaen's massive symphonic work, "Turangalîla".