It's easy to forget how crazy Messiaen's titles are when we leave them in French (Edit: Or Latin). Et exspecto resurrectionem morturorum sounds pretty tame until you translate it into "I await the resurrection of the dead." Or Eclairs sur l'au-dela, which sounds like a delicious dessert but is in fact "Illuminations of the Beyond" (in case you haven't realized, I don't speak French or Latin). Et expecto, one of the great Messiaen orchestral works (albeit an orchestra of winds and percussion), is being performed this Friday evening by the Northwestern University Symphonic Wind Ensemble, in Pick-Staiger Concert Hall at 7:30pm. Tickets can be purchased here. I'm not sure when this was performed in Chicago last, but apparently Boulez conducted it with the CSO in 1969. It is a tremendously awesome work, one of the few Messiaen pieces that (unfortunately) doesn't end in a massive, supersonic major-key apotheosis.
The Symphonic Wind Ensemble is also performing the Stucky/Purcell Funeral Music, a Vaughn Williams scherzo, and the Chicago premiere of William Bolcom's over-orchestrated, vapid First Symphony for Band. Hope to see you there.
Edit: Thanks to commenter Jorge for noticing that Et exspecto is obviously Latin and not French. This is why you shouldn't blog while watching TV. Actually, though, this leads to an interesting issue which I may blog about in the future: how texts, whether titles or lyrics, in classical music influence us when they're in a foreign language. It's a weird phenomenon almost exclusive to classical music, omnipresent in opera and also in plenty of non-staged works.
The paradox of the Dalai Lama
2 days ago