- Livre des prodiges, for orchestra
- Anneau du Tamarít, for cello & orchestra
- Synaxis, for 2 pianos, 4 percussionist & orchestra
Maurice Ohana was of Spanish heritage, always a significant influence on his music, although his career unfolded mostly in France. A near-contemporary of Olivier Messiaen (both composers died in 1992, but Messiaen was six years older), affinities to his music can occasionally be detected. There are ritualistic aspects in both composers' works, but in place of Messiaen's Catholic inspiration, Ohana looked to more archaic and geographically diffuse sources. His orchestral scores -- of which he wrote few -- use the large ensemble to create sounds of often striking brutality and violence. In fact, Livres des Prodiges (1979) may show its debt to Stravinsky's Rite of Spring just a bit too openly, although it is certainly an intriguingly colorful showpiece. In Synaxis (1966), a more original take on primitivism was achieved. Resonant pianos, percussion, and harps sometimes create a chamber music-like intimacy that is, however, no less powerfully explosive than the attacks of the full orchestra. But Anneau de Tamarit (1976) is perhaps the most impressive work on this album, one of a series that Arturo Tamayo and the Luxembourg Philharmonic have given us on the enterprising Timpani label. This tragic and lyrical work is a cello concerto that pays homage to the memory of Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca. (Anssi Karttunen is the excellent soloist here.) With delicately refined instrumentation, Anneau de Tamarit takes the extroverted violence of Ohana's other music and turns it inward, meditating furiously and with heartbreaking intensity.