- Olivier Messiaen, Les Offrandes Oubliees
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Piano Concerto No. 23
- Tristan Murail, Le Desenchantement du monde
- Ludwig Van Beethoven, Symphony No. 2
Venue: Avery Fisher Hall, Manhattan, NY
Performers: David Robertson, Conductor; Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Piano
In the beginning of his career Olivier Messiaen participated in the Prix de Rome, a competition for classical musicians, but had failed to win (Hill and Simeone 2005, 28-29). However, he did gain positive attention from critics and it was during this time, in 1931 one year after the competition, that he had written Les Offrandes Oubliees (Offerings Forgotten) which upon completion Messiaen wrote a letter to a friend describing the work as “the music for a symphonic poem” (Hill and Simeone 2005, 30).
The piece does not follow the traditional format of classical works as does the works of composers from the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic era. Upon hearing the works my initial reaction was that it was very intense and not guided by melodies but rather affect the listener by having sudden transitions, fast crescendos and decrescendos. The piece was written within a year of his completion of his studies and may be a poor reflection of his future works due to the fact that much time would be granted for growth.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had written 15 piano concertos between 1782 and 1786, some critics refer to the concertos of this period as “the great keyboard concertos” (Abert 2007, 870). Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major (K488) was completed in 1786 and was one of two concertos written in A major during this period. The concerto is described as having a “bright and sunny grace” (Abert 2007, 879) to it in contrast to his other concertos of the period which can vary from providing a feeling of serenity or even festivity.
This concerto, like many other works of Mozart, introduces new themes throughout the length of the work in the development period. In Mozart’s own words, in a letter written to his father, he describes his work of the period as “a mid-course between being too hard and too easy, they’re very brilliant, pleasing to the ear and natural, without seeming empty” (Abert 2007, 870). Like much of his work, Mozart introduces many melodies throughout the length of his work. I’m most excited to hear this piece live and experience a solo pianist play with an orchestra, particularly a piece this moving. I had found the first movement to be very relaxing and beautiful and would only describe the third movement as “bright and sunny.”
Finally, the performance will close with Beethoven’s 2nd Symphony. In response to Beethoven’s earlier work Mozart had once said, in a letter to his father, “keep your eye on him; he will make the world talk about him someday” (Biancolli and Peyser 1954 ,154). When the 2nd symphony was composed Beethoven’s hearing had deteriorated dramatically since the writing of his 1st. He had written the symphony in a tourist village called Heiligenstadt which he felt was so boring that he would have “taken his own life but for his determination to consecrate himself with new courage to art” (Biancolli and Peyser 1954 ,159).
Beethoven was known to liberally bend rules of the symphony and this was apparent at the early stages of his career. Regardless, the symphony was well received by critics and described as “extravagant and enigmatic” (Biancolli and Peyser 1954 ,160).When listening to the symphony I had found that the work seems very tame relative to his later symphonies. This may in fact be a sign that during his earlier years as a composer Beethoven was not as daring to make a bold impression amongst European high society. Symphonies such as the 5th, 7th, and 9th I had found were more complex in nature and varied in moods. They had provided moments of lound intensity and calm serenity, this is not felt to the same degree in the 2nd symphony.
Abert, Hermann, and Cliff Eisen. W.A. Mozart. New Haven, NJ: Yale UP, 2007
Biancolli, Louis, and Herbert F. Peyser. Masters of the Orchestra. New York: Greenwood, 1954
Hill, Peter, and Nigel Simeone. Messiaen. New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 2005