The description in the title is how Messiaen described a section of the piano part in the second movement of his great “Quartet for the End of Time” (1941). Last night’s Philharmonic chamber concert in Disney Hall came as close as I can imagine to enabling me to see sounds. It was a gorgeous performance by members of the Phil (with CalArts’ Vicki Ray as pianist). I’ve only been to one other live performance, and of course it’s one of the Messiaen tracks on my iPod, but the sound of the performance made it seem as if I was hearing sections for the first time.
Sunday’s concert by the Phil was the second program of the season to be recorded for release on iTunes, and it’s another “must have”. Salonen began with Webern’s “Five Pieces for Orchestra” (1913), a delight for the ears as well as for the brain. The first time I heard the work was in the sound-limited Dorothy Chandler in the program in which Mehta introduced the work to the Philharmonic audience and quieted the audience filing in for the second work on the program by saying that since the work was so short he could understand how some were sorry they had missed it, so he played the work again. On Sunday’s concert Salonen then led a great performance of Mahler’s Seventh (1905). I’m glad I’ll have the recording of that performance.