The ondes Martenot is an early electronic instrument invented by and named after French musician Maurice Martenot. Though difficult to describe, its haunting, quivering sound is immediately recognizable. Messiaen championed the ondes Martenot, most famously in his Turangalîla Symphony. He composed the featured work on this CD, Fête des Belles Eaux, in 1937 for the Paris International Exhibition of Arts and Technology. A site-specific composition, Messiaen’s Fête was amplified by loudspeakers along the Seine river and accompanied by fireworks.
Two rare bonuses are included in ATMA’s celebration of the ondes Martenot: The world premier recording of Messiaen’s Feuillets Inédits, with pianist Louise Bessette, and the first movement of Ravel’s String Quartet played by four ondes. Having heard his quartet played by ondes, Ravel himself declared, “that is the way I was hearing it in my dreams!”