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March 10, 2011

Big musical draw in Washington this week: NSO performs Messiaen's 'Turangalila'

As usual, there's so much going on musically that it's hard to know where to turn. Well, let me nudge you ever so slightly to consider one particular offering from the National Symphony Orchestra Thursday, Friday or Saturday night at the Kennedy Center.

Christoph Eschenbach leads the ensemble in Messiaen's fabulous "Turangalila" Symphony, which the NSO last performed a decade ago with Leonard Slatkin on the podium. In some places -- Hello, Baltimore! -- you might wait a lot longer to experience this masterwork. On the first half of each performance, Eschenbach will take part in a discussion of Messiaen and "Turangalila," joined by guest artists C├ędric Tiberghien (piano) and Tristan Murail (ondes martenot) and moderated by Joseph Horowitz.

There's nothing else quite like "Turangalila" in the repertoire. Messiaen created here something at once intensely sensual and intensely spiritual, a work filled with joy and wonder and incredible splashes of orchestral coloring. Here's a snippet:

Posted by Tim Smith at 10:46 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes, NSO

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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