Ensemble Vecteur Ondes ‘Hommage à Messiaen’


  1. Akira Tamba ‘Accalmies’ (16:05)
    for 6 Ondes Martenot (1978)
  2. Roland Creuze ‘Vitrail Sonore’ (9:50)
    for 3 Ondes Martenot and piano (2008)
  3. Susumu Yoshida ‘Toki No Hibiki’ (4:50)
    for 4 Ondes Martenot (1984)
  4. Olivier Messiaen ‘Fête Des Belles Eaux’ (21:59)
    for 6 Ondes Martenot (1937)

Total time 52:43
Live recording Jan. 23rd, 2009,
Maison De La Culture Du Japon, Paris,

Ensemble Vecteur Ondes
Ondes Martenot: Philippe Arrieus, Dominique Kim, Fabienne Martin-Besnard, Nadia Ratsimandresy, Pascale Rousse-Lacordaire, Augustin Viard

jloriod-sextuor-2301Ever since Olivier Messiaen composed his 1937 ‘Fêtes Des Belles Eaux’ for Ondes Martenot sextet, there have been ondists gathering to perform this masterpiece (a typical example being Jeanne Loriod’s Sextuor d’Ondes Martenot – pictured left) and eventually many other composers have written music for 6 Ondes Martenot as well. Composers Roland Creuze [birthdate?] and Susumu Yoshida (born 1947) actually studied with Messiaen, while several ondists here studied with Yvonne Loriod (Philippe Arrieus, Dominique Kim, Fabienne Martin-Besnard). Vecteur Ondes ensemble incorporates ondists from different generations, some were members of Jeanne Loriod’s Sextuor d’Ondes Martenot, some are new names to the ondist scene, like Augustin Viard or Nadia Ratsimandresy (born 1978), a member of french experimental-gothic band Art Zoyd, specialising in early silent film soundtracks, and playing in her own Trio 3D as well. The concert’s program alternates between sparse, poetic compositions where silence plays a significant part (#1 & 3) and lively, eventful pieces where the instrument’s full range is used to devastating effect (#2 & 4), from quick staccatos to long drones, from powerful lower register rumbles to high pitched notes. Dominique Kim is on piano during Roland Creuze’s Vitrail Sonore, itself an hommage to Messiaen. To no surprise the music reaches sublime heights during Messiaen’s ‘Fête Des Belles Eaux’, whose mix of poetry, bird calls, sheer joy and glorious melodies is an unrivalled achievement. Even if Messiaen considered water a mystical symbol of the Knowledge of God (inspired by John 4:14: ‘But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst’, American King James Version), the music he composed is nonetheless uncompromising and a landmark electronic music masterpiece. On the 6 instruments used during this performance, 3 were actually Ondéas, the new version of the Ondes Martenot, the latter’s production being discontinued since 2005. Each version comes complete with 2 loudspeakers and I think vacuum tubes amplifiers on the older version. These small loudspeakers can sometimes be heard struggling to play the rich tonalities of the instruments. Technical note: Recording level was not properly set during track #1, causing some overload here and there (a few seconds out of a 16mns piece). The remaining of the set is better recorded in spite of some “tape hiss” caused by less-than-professional microphone and compression. Also note that Ondes Martenot music is rather demanding on stereo equipment, so check your playback levels during listening.
See Ondes discography and Wikipedia article.


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Above: ‘Fêtes Des Belles Eaux’ by Ensemble d’Ondes de Montréal.


2 Responses to “Ensemble Vecteur Ondes ‘Hommage à Messiaen’”

  1. 1 gidouille July 31, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    I love Messiaen and am always curious to hear more of the ondes martenot. There is a disc on Naxos by Thomas Bloch, who studied with Jeanne Loriod, Messiaen’s sister-in-law, and which features pieces by him, Redolfi, Martinú and Lindsay Cooper, among others. There’s also a recent disc I’ve not heard, on ReR, that features Nadia Ratsimandresy I believe. This resurgence of interest in this odd instrument is a welcome development, thanks.

  2. 2 continuo August 1, 2009 at 12:56 am

    I hope my humble live recording conveys some of the magic inherent in Ondes Martenot music. Thanks for commenting.

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