The annual festival orchestra I play in, in Seattle, has committed to a performance of TurangalÃ®la, in Benaroya Hall, and I seem to have started rounding up percussionists. I've heard the Chung recording a dozen times. I can still remember the impact of the RPO/Groves/Loriod/Ogdon Prom in 1969; it was a turning point in my understanding of the symphony orchestra.
I'd like to seek out practical advice from anyone who has tackled the piece. First question is how many players to strive for. We have a cadre of talented amateurs and semi-pros attached to the festival who can handle the rhythmic complexities. Apart from the astonishing glockenspiel part, there doesnâ€™t seem to be a requirement from the greatest chops; panache and good tonal control would be top of my list. I know the National Youth Orchestra played it recently, and we're probably one notch below them.
Various sources have put it at 5, 6, 7, and 10 players (Messiaen's program note in the Chung CD has the not-very-credible 5). Itâ€™s not clear whether those counts include the glock/vibe/chimes and whether those three could be done by one player.
I just got a copy of the score's cover pages, where a layout by one Gerard Perotin gives a detailed choreography and suggests how to substitute for the keyed glockenspiel. He has 8 players for just the untuned instruments. I was wondering if he this results in something that requires superhuman effort, or on the other hand leaves someone a little too idle.
So, any random advice would be helpful.
The other problem is that none of us probably owns the big, bad bass drum that it requires. Maybe not even the tamtam.