The ondes martenot is an early electronic instrument, best known for its key role in works such as Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie and more recently Thomas Adès’s new opera, The Exterminating Angel. But though its otherworldy sound and distinctive form - the keyboard and array of elegant speakers - may be familiar to many, less understood perhaps is how it's played, and how it works.
Cynthia Millar is one of today’s leading players of the instrument, and for the latest Gramophone podcast she talked to Gramophone's Editor Martin Cullingford about the ondes martenot, demonstrating some of its key features, and about the repertoire written for it, both old and new.
To download the podcast - or to hear other Gramophone Podcasts - visit Gramophone’s page at iTunes – or you can listen below.
The interview took place during rehearsals of Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie at BBC Maida Vale Studios, for performances this week (also featuring pianist Steven Osborne, the BBC Symphony Orchestra and conductor Sakari Oramo), at London’s Barbican tonight (Wednesday May 24) and Birmingham Symphony Hall (Friday May 26). Details: Barbican and Birmingham Symphony Hall.
Photo credits: Steve Nilsson