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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a smooth and exciting Turangalila
I had read some negative pr tepid reviews of this performance of Messiaen's eccentric symphony by Kent Nagano at the helm of the Berlin Philharmonic.
But I was very pleasantly surprised when I heard it.

Premise: there isn't an absolutely ideal, definitive performance of any composition. From each performance or recording one can take away the best it can...
Published on 11 Feb 2010 by Giancarlo Stampalia

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Where's the Ondes Martenot?
Having just heard a live rendition of this at the weekend, I was very keen to get a copy of this symphony, and at less than £3, what could go wrong? Well, in direct contrast to other reviewers, I think that the Ondes Martenot is mixed too far down and is barely audible for much of the performance. After all, it's that unusual instrument that makes this piece different...
Published 9 months ago by A. G. Battison


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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a smooth and exciting Turangalila, 11 Feb 2010
By 
Giancarlo Stampalia "tv omnivorous" (Trieste, Italy) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Messiaen : Turangalila Symphony (Audio CD)
I had read some negative pr tepid reviews of this performance of Messiaen's eccentric symphony by Kent Nagano at the helm of the Berlin Philharmonic.
But I was very pleasantly surprised when I heard it.

Premise: there isn't an absolutely ideal, definitive performance of any composition. From each performance or recording one can take away the best it can offer. That said, this is a slick, energetic, exciting reading.

The Berlin orchestra is, as always, a dream: unmatched for smoothness and sheer force.
And Nagano approaches the work with speed and ferocity, moving it along (usually where appropriate) at an adrenalinic, frenzied pace. I am not sure this is only due to his interpretation: it might be that that particular orchestra allows him to take it fast (where others might have trouble playing it at that speed).

I would say the main difference between this performance and all the others I have heard (Previn, Salonen, Ozawa) is the sonic positioning of the Ondes Martenot instrument. Where other conductors (especially Salonen) place it in the very foreground, giving it great prominence, Nagano opts for a very discreet approach and "hides" it in the background most of the time. One knows it is there, but its voice is not a protagonist, just an added color. Though I love the instrument, I did think Salonen went overboard a little: placed in the very foreground, it gives the piece a loony, trashy sound that Nagano denies us.

This is a live recording, as opposed to a studio recording, so some lack of detail and clarity is to be expected. The placement of the orchestra sections, and the general "volume" of the performance, seem more discreet and less "in-your-face" than, say, Ozawa's or Previn's.

But my only real reservation is with the very final chords of the finale: Nagano fools around with the volume of the brass in the first sounding of their chord, giving it a flashy, loud crescendo that takes away the impact of the ending itself (the first chord is perceived as louder than the last). I think he does that to show off the versatility and strength of the orchestra. But it comes off as an empty virtuosity. Salonen, for example, refrains from that early flash but really pushes the final crescendo and holds the last chord much longer, giving out a sense of real power. Very exciting.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling and subtle, 22 Feb 2012
By 
enthusiast "enthusiast" (sussex, uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Messiaen : Turangalila Symphony (Audio CD)
This would make a very good first choice for Turangalila. Nagano goes for the piece with considerable verve and imagination. It is wonderfully played by the Berlin PO but there is the added thrill in this live performance from the sense that the orchestra is being stretched in repertoire that had not been at all central to its experience. It is not only excitement, though, that one finds here. I value a subtlety in this performance that many leading performances - Previn, for example - seem to lack. OK, Turangalila does have its vulgar side but surely this exerts its influence most effectively when it is subdued a little and complimented by something a little more serious. The presence of Pierre-Laurent Aimard on piano adds real pedigree to the proceedings and the relatively recessed sound of the ondes martenot is to my mind very much an improvement over many recordings - the instrument can sound almost embarrassingly amusing these days. An excellent CD. Also note the unbelievably cheap price for the download (currently less than £3).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bargain Brilliance, 26 May 2012
By 
David Harris (Somerset) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Messiaen : Turangalila Symphony (Audio CD)
I couldn't believe my luck here. Having just listened to BBC Radio 3's Building a Library, in which various recordings of the Turangalila Symphony were compared (with this one coming out on top) I logged on to Amazon and found that there was a cheap MP3 available of this normally full priced item. How wonderful to be able to obtain a great recording of a great piece of music for under £3 - yeah, I know, but times are hard!

As for the music itself - I'm guessing that if you've taken the trouble to investigate this and other recordings of Turangalila, and read this and other reviews, you'll already know what to expect. If you need a more in-depth account of the piece, you won't have any problems finding informative and knowledgeable imput elsewhere - certainly better than I could offer. But as for this particular recording, I have to say I fully agree with the opinions of the Radio 3 reviewer: the scope, the nuance, the light and shade, the poetry and the dynamic are something special, and this recording manages to capture these qualities brilliantly.

Incidentally, if you've never downloaded from Amazon before, you'll find the whole procedure very straightforward and user-friendly.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best bar none, 1 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Messiaen : Turangalila Symphony (Audio CD)
This is a hard work to record and Nagano et al do a stunning job. Brought the after a great performance by the RSNO but this is in a whole different universe!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Where's the Ondes Martenot?, 18 Mar 2014
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Having just heard a live rendition of this at the weekend, I was very keen to get a copy of this symphony, and at less than £3, what could go wrong? Well, in direct contrast to other reviewers, I think that the Ondes Martenot is mixed too far down and is barely audible for much of the performance. After all, it's that unusual instrument that makes this piece different. It's like listening to Saint-Saens' Organ Symphony without the organ. The piano mix is a bit better, but still could be a shade more prominent.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 30 Aug 2014
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A very strong interpretation as expected from Nagano. A particularly well balanced orchestral performance by the Berlin Phil.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 19 Sep 2014
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H. Coombs "musicperson" (Dorset, UK) - See all my reviews
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Clarity and exuberance. So interesting to realise how instantly recognisable this is now
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Messiaen : Turangalila Symphony
Messiaen : Turangalila Symphony by Kent Nagano & Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra (Audio CD - 2001)
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