Wednesday, May 19, 2010

RIP Yvonne Loriod

Yvonne Loriod, the brilliant pianist and second wife of Composer Olivier Messiaen, has died at the age of eighty-six. For a good account of her career and life with Messiaen, see the New York Times obituary. Without the influence of Loriod, a brilliant performer with faultless technique and a seemingly limitless palette of colours, it is hard to imagine how any of his major post-war works would have taken shape.

You can hear Loriod in action in this performance of Messiaen's Turangalila-Symphonie, conducted by Myung-Whun Chung; the pianist plays rapid birdsong interpolations above a background of lush chords in the strings. (Warning: this recording is very quiet. Turn your speakers up before listening - but, more importantly, turn them down afterwards.)
And for a lighter side of the couple, here they are in a film discussing the composer's use of birdsong. Loriod plays excerpts from her husband's piano music; Messiaen talks very rapidly and makes loud bird noises. Loriod's indulgent smile at 0:56 says it all.

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