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These concerts are generously sponsored by Nellie and Max Levchin.
Event DescriptionTranscendent and voluptuous, Claude Debussy’s Prélude à L’Après-midi d’un faune is imbued with a gentle luster that lights the music from within, while Heitor Villa-Lobos’ Chôros No.10 evokes a Brazilian rainforest. Jean-Yves Thibaudet joins Michael Tilson Thomas for Olivier Messiaen’s Trois petites liturgies de la Présence Divine, a work thatintermingles birdsong with spiritual mysticism, and Debussy’s Fantaisie—inspired by the sounds of Javanese gamelan.
At A Glance
By the time Trois petites liturgies de la Présence Divine was premiered in 1945, Olivier Messiaen was a polarizing ﬁgure, with debate raging in the Parisian press about whether his distinctive scores reﬂected brilliance or bogus presumption. The former position won the day, and some of his detractors ended up reversing their stances and apologizing in print. In these three movements, a choir sings words by the composer with an unusually scored orchestra, so that, as Messiaen put it, “these inexpressible ideas are not expressed but remain of the order of a dazzling display of color.”
Heitor Villa-Lobos’s Chôros No. 10 triumphed at its 1926 premiere in Rio de Janeiro (with nearly 200 singers), and when it reached Paris a year later, the Revue musicale maintained that “it is the ﬁrst time in Europe that one hears works coming from Latin America that bring with them the wonders of virgin forests, of great plains, of an exuberant nature, profuse in dazzling fruits, ﬂowers, and birds.” This is one of Villa-Lobos’s most individual and resoundingly successful achievements.