Olivier Messiaen's Harawi for soprano and piano, subtitled Song of Love and Death, is part of the composer's trilogy of works inspired by the Tristan legend. Messiaen's take on the legend, though, is decidedly more international than Wagner's--Harawi draws on Peruvian words and imagery, and the second of the pieces in the trilogy, the mammoth Turangalila Symphony for piano, ondes martenot and orchestra, takes its title from two Sanskrit words (meaning love song and hymn) and uses Hindu and Greek rhythms (as does Harawi ).
Tony Arnold and I have been wanting to do the piece for years now, and it seems like now is the time, finally--our first performance will be in Chicago in September, as part of ICEFest Chicago. It's definitely the biggest piece by Messiaen that I've done, even including the completely set of early Preludes, Visions de l'Amen for two pianos, and the two books of the song cycle Poemes pour Mi, which I last did with Tony a few years ago. Harawi is true vocal chamber music, but there are many opportunities for me to show off, too. We rehearse the piece for the first time in Buffalo next month.
"Repetition Planetaire" is the movement I'm learning now, and it kind of closes the first part of the piece. It's a tough one...