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  • Media | Olivier Messiaen

    MultiMedia ​ AUDIO and VIDEO FILES ALL OF THE BELOW AUDIO/VIDEO FILES ARE © copyright of the holder. NOTE: All audio and video files available on this site are for personal use only. NO REPOSTING OF ANY COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL IS PERMITTED WITHOUT THE PERMISSION OF THE COPYRIGHT HOLDER. Matthew Schellhorn's special film for the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2021 For the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2021 (29 to 31 January), Matthew Schellhorn produced a special film in collaboration with young artists from across the country. Olivier Messiaen (1908–92) wrote numerous pieces inspired by birdsong. “Le Rouge-gorge ” (Robin) comes from a collection written in 1985 called “Petites esquisses d’oiseaux ” (Small Bird Sketches) and apart from the Robin features the Blackbird, the Song Thrush and the Skylark. The work was dedicated to the composer’s wife, Yvonne Loriod , with whom Matthew studied in Paris. Special thanks go to the talented pupils of Myatt Garden Primary School for taking part! Rodrigo De la Prida introduces Messiaen's Modes for Electric Guitar Find out more here . There were a few instruments that Messiaen never included in his compositions (saxophone, harp, timpani after the 1930's and guitar are among these) - Rodrigo De la Prida 's work opens up the sound world of Messiaen's modes for guitarists with excellent and engaging examples that range from chord and scale work to improvisation. Rodrigo says: 'With already 4 years of intense work, the 7 volumes of the book series about the scales of Olivier Messiaen and their applications on any musical genre, are now available. Just digital for now. More than 500 pages with 351 licks, guitar studies, arpeggios, atonal chords, triads and tetrads, and examples. This material represents a deep dive into the rich musical universe of the french composer'. ​ 'In this book series for guitar, Rodrigo tackles the exhaustive task of diving into the musical language of Olivier Messiaen, but from an unprejudiced view, where the different types of music coexist. Messiaen Modes for Electric Guitar aims to be a tool to expand the harmonic and melodic universe of the popular musician, but also a means to the study and deepening of modern language in the contemporary-classical music student as well'. M2BT-DEMO Rodrigo De la Prida 00:00 / 01:03 Here is a short demo of a backing track that comes with the book. © Rodrigo De la Prida Video trailer for the 1999 Festival Messiaen au Pays de la Meije featuring Gaëtan Puaud, Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Messiaen. © INA.Fr ©INA During the 1973 English Bach Festival in London, Olivier Messiaen and Yvonne Loriod gave a recital at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Messiaen began by apologising for the way they were dressed. The taxi had gone off with all their luggage. He read the poetic preface to the piano work written three years earlier. Mme Messiaen then performed "La Fauvette des Jardins " @ 7' 40" Didier Didier Wampas and Bikini Machine Olivier Messiaen Il voyait des couleurs Que l'on ne voit pas Et croyait en un Dieu Auquel on ne croit plus Olivier Messiaen Il faisait des mélodies Que l'on n'entend pas Et chanter des oiseaux Que l'on ne connaît plus Olivier Messiaen Oui mais grâce à lui J'ai découvert des mondes Des regards plein d'amours Des canyons aux étoiles Et un Quatuor Pour la fin des temps Composé au stalag Éclairs sur l'au-delà Saint François d'Assise Un soir à l'opéra Olivier Messiaen Oui mais grâce à lui J'ai découvert des mondes Des regards plein d'amours Des canyons aux étoiles Oui mais grâce à lui J'ai découvert des mondes Des catalogues d'oiseaux Des canyons aux étoiles Oui mais grâce à lui J'ai découvert des mondes Et le Regard du père Des canyons aux étoiles ©Didier Wampas He saw colors That we don't see And believed in a God In which we no longer believe Olivier Messiaen He made melodies That we don't hear And sing of the birds That we no longer know Olivier Messiaen Yes but thanks to him I discovered worlds Gazes full of love Des canyons aux étoiles And a Quatuor Pour la fin des temps Composed in a Stalag Éclairs sur l'au-delà Saint François d’Assisi An evening at the opera Olivier Messiaen Yes but thanks to him I discovered worlds Gazes full of love Des canyons aux étoiles Yes but thanks to him I discovered worlds Catalogue d’oiseaux Des canyons aux étoiles Yes but thanks to him I discovered worlds And the Regard du père Des canyons aux étoiles Historic Recordings of Messiaen by Messiaen . Transfer from original 78rpm records recorded in 1949 of Visions de l'Amen with Yvonne Loriod and recording of OM playing his Quatre Etudes 1951. FMR Records FMRCD 120-L0403. Order via the Contact form . 00:00 / 00:26 00:00 / 00:54 00:00 / 00:54 VINGT REGARDS SUR L'ENFANT JESUS Louise Bessette Atma ACD22219/20 LE COURLIS CENDRE / LE MERLE NOIR / Mozart / Levinas / Gougeon / Mâche Louise Bessette RCI 650 Claude-Samuel Levine would like to share his playing of movements from the Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps : using VSTi Synful Orchestra and VSTi Pianoteq, humanly played in Cubase. Liturgie de Cristal Vocalise pour l'ange qui annonce la fin du temps Abyme des Oiseaux Intermède CD and downloads of the complete Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps now available direct from Claude-Samuel here . 00:00 / 02:38 After a period of two years work, Claude-Samuel Lévine has produced a version of TurangalilaSymphonie created entirely by computer software instruments and MIDI (except for 'live' Ondes Martenot played on the Ondea). This is a detailed interpretation that in no way proposes to 'replace' real musicians, but can provide an insight into Messiaen's microscopic detail in the work. Further commentaries can be found on Claude-Samuel's web site as well as audio and visual clips. The CD and DVD are also available to purchase here . Click here to see and hear Thomas Bloch and Jean-François Zygel perform 4th Feuillet Inedits. ​ Click here to see and hear Willem Tanke perform Messiaen's organ works. ©Willem Tanke Nans Bart Variations sur un thème de Messiaen ((Thème du Final - 10ème Mvt. de la Turangalila-Symphonie)) for Percussion Ensemble here ©Thomas Bloch

  • In the Press | Olivier Messiaen

    Concerts, Events & Book Reviews InPressTop TURANGALÎLA SYMPHONIE Guildhall Symphony Orchestra Nicholas Collon, conductor, William Bracken, piano, Cynthia Millar, Ondes Martenot. Barbican Hall, London. 23rd November 2022 As Edward Bhesania states in his concise but informed programme notes, Messiaen’s Turangalîla Symphonie remains ‘one of the great milestones’ of 20th –century orchestral music. However, after the first performance in 1949 by the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Leonard Bernstein and a few follow up performances in America and Europe, it’s taken a good half a century for the work to become a staple repertoire piece, not least of course by the rarity of Ondes Martenot players globally. Over the past 20 years, younger orchestras have taken up the challenge, some to great acclaim including the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, Junge Deutsche Philharmonic and the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, and now, among those at the top must surely be the Guildhall Symphony Orchestra. Their performance on the 23rd November under the assured guidance of Nicholas Collon really ‘raised the roof ‘ of the Barbican Hall. There was no cutting back on Messiaen’s stipulated resources, full strings including 10 double basses and full percussion line up that certainly didn’t hold back in the climaxes. That said, Collon also coaxed the more delicate timbres to great effect for example the ‘flower theme’ in the woodwind and the caressing ‘love theme’ in the 6th movement, ‘Jardin du sommeil d’amour’. This movement also produced some fine thoughtful piano work from postgraduate student William Bracken who thoroughly immersed himself in the part and playing from memory created a sense of drama and occasion throughout. Cynthia Millar continued to provided an innate sense of balance and clarity to the Ondes Martenot role and judging by her beaming smile during the lengthy applause at the end, clearly enjoys working with the younger generation on a work that has been so close to her heart for many years. I would have preferred to see the vibraphone, celeste and keyed glockenspiel in front of the stage behind the piano thereby creating a tightly knit ‘gamelan’ section that Messiaen was keen on. Of course this orchestra has not had the historical experience of working together as a seasoned unit and there were a couple of rough edges, but my goodness, they certainly conveyed the exciting exuberance and rhythmic commitment that Messiaen would have loved. ©M.Ball The 23rd November was special because those that could make it earlier were treated to a performance of Harawi in Milton Court Concert Hall just across the road from the Barbican Hall by mezzo soprano, Alexandra Achillea Pouta and pianist, Élisabeth Pion , thus giving us the opportunity to experience two thirds of Messiaen’s Tristan trilogy in one night (the remaining third being Cinq Rechants). What an occasion! To say that Harawi is one of Messiaen’s more deeply personal works is an understatement. Essentially it is a work that explores love and death in a somewhat surrealistic world that is influenced by folk music of Peru, Papua New Guinea and elsewhere. At the time of writing Messiaen’s personal life was in much turmoil having to cope with his wife’s debilitating and declining illness while at the same time a developing relationship with Yvonne Loriod that would eventually culminate in their marriage in 1962. This demanding hour long song cycle was treated with the utmost sensitivity from both Alexandra Achillea Pouta and Élisabeth Pion both of whom brought integrity, personality and clear expressive and emotional engagement to the performance. MB © 11/2022 Des Canyons aux Étoiles... Utah Symphony directed by Thierry Fischer. June 2, 2022. OC Tanner Amphitheater, Springdale, Utah, USA. From the moment I got news of this concert I knew I had to go. Utah had been on my bucket list of places to visit with Messiaen connections for a very long time so this was an opportunity not to be missed. I arranged a 'package' that would include flights, hire car (essential) and hotel and I set off on a whistle stop five day tour that culminated in the concert at the OC Tanner Amphitheater, Zion Park, Utah. Prior to the concert I managed to take in all the sites and areas that so inspired Messiaen throughout the writing of Des Canyons aux Étoiles. .. he described them as 'the most marvellous natural phenomenon in the United States'. Of course, Messiaen's beloved birds feature throughout the work and these are species found in the area as well as elsewhere but there are three movements dedicated to these 'natural phenomenon' that are Cedar Breaks, Bryce Canyon and Zion Park. So with trusty GPS and hire car I found my way to all these sites and walked in the footsteps of Messiaen and Yvonne Loriod who, in 1972 was surely as awe struck as I was on this occasion. It is one thing seeing these places in books and photos but one really has to be there in person to fully appreciate the immensity, the striking shapes and above all, the colours of the rock formations that are truly breathtaking and unique. The concert on June the 2nd was scheduled to begin at 8.30pm and from 7.30 audience members were shuttled up the winding road from Springdale town to the amphitheater at the foot of the canyon and spot on 8.30, Thierry Fischer appeared and gave a short introduction before the strains of a solo horn set the mood for the first movement Le désert . As is becoming more and more customary, the solo horn was positioned towards the rear of the audience to give a sense of distance and remoteness. Horn player Stefan Dohr gave good time and space for the sound to travel and deflect off the walls of the stage both in this movement and his solo sixth movement 'Appel interstellaire ' where, once our ears were accustomed to the acoustic, every dynamic detail was audible. Commissioned in 1971 to celebrate the bicentenary of the Declaration of Independence, Des Canyons aux Étoile ... uses a modest orchestra, just 44 players, due to the confined space available at the world premiere in Alice Tully Hall but Messiaen's masterful orchestration draws out the raw power of the subject material with vivid immediacy. The score demands a very high standard of virtuosity from all players and the Utah Symphony under Thierry Fischer certainly delivered on all counts. The work also includes important solo parts for horn (mentioned above), xylorimba (Keith Garrick), glockenspiel (Eric Hopkins) and piano (Jason Hardink) all of their parts consisting almost entirely of bird songs. Both Keith Garrick and Eric Hopkins were superb in their roles and Jason Hardink really took this work under his wing (no pun intended!) and made it his own. Without the hinderance of a score, Hardink conjured the avian choruses admirably in the two solo piano movements (IV-Le Cossyphe D'Heuglin and IX-Le Moqueur polyglotte ) and as the ensuing darkness fell on the canyon rocks behind the amphitheater, his sense of naturalism was almost spiritual. Outdoor musical events are always tricky to mic up and balance successfully but the sound team at OC Tanner did a great job with subtle amplification of all sections of the orchestra except the percussion which, from where I was sitting just got slightly lost at times. Nonetheless, having the backdrop of the canyon that Messiaen so loved and experiencing the Utah sky turn slowly from dusk to black, it really was unforgettably - From the Canyons to the Stars... Cedar Breaks Bryce Canyon 13 February 2020. Igor Levit and Markus Hinterhäuser, pianos perform Visions de l'Amen. Milton Court Hall, Barbican, London This was the second in Igor Levit’s series of concerts as the Barbican featured artist and was the first of two concerts that included works for two pianos. Levit’s partner for Vision de l’Amen was Markus Hinterhäuser. Visions de l’Amen was written in 1943 and first performed in Paris during the Occupation by Messiaen and Yvonne Loriod at the Concert de la Pléiade on May 10 that year. Messiaen made no attempt to divide the material between the two pianos and piano one was consciously written for the pianistic talents of Loriod who, even at a young age was able to juggle musical complexities with ease. So her part was assigned the bells, birdsong, rhythmic canons in several layers and so on and piano two (Messiaen’s role) was to supply the thematic material and emotional power. For almost two decades the work remained the sole domain of composer and pupil until Irén Marik and John Ranck made a recording c.1956 and performed it at the Deepest Valley Theatre, USA in 1965 then the Labèque’s took it on in 1969 under Messiaen's supervision. Lately of course many couples have ventured into Messiaen’s world of creation, spinning planets, the agony of Jesus and Jugement, desire and consummation, some with variable results it has to be said. Levit and Hinterhäuser began Amen de la Création with suitable solemn majesty and unlike many recent performances by others, tempo was effective and delivered a sense of Time and Eternity. Levit’s double rhythmic pedal carillon pieced the darkness with just enough light and gave us a hint of things to come. The minim rest had just expired from movement one when Hinterhäuser segued into No.2 Amen des étoiles, de la planète à l’anneau – a brutal dance of the planets in octaves that is eventually joined by the swirling rhythmic and polymodal complexities of piano one. Apart from some over pedaling in piano two, tutti was impressive and the relentless energy and exhilaration heightened the drama. The third Vision, Amen de l’agonie de Jésus focuses on the suffocating confines of the Garden of Gethsemene and Messiaen said of this movement: “God, who’s beyond time…came in order to suffer with us. And I express this in my music…God is above us and still He comes to suffer with us.” This was written at a time when Messiaen’s brother Alain was still in a German prisoner of War camp and his first wife Claire was suffering a debilitating and degenerative mental illness. The music ‘cries’ and shreds the emotions to an almost unbearable degree and the interlocking writing was nuanced and well projected by both performers. Amen du Désir explores two themes of desire. The first slow, ecstatic and longing of a deep tenderness, the second passionate and explosive. Piano two states the opening love song while a sense of clock time is introduced by piano one quietly chiming octave ‘Ds’ where Levit, with legs astride and making eye contact with members of the audience was somewhat distracting. I found Hinterhäuser’s tone a little harsh at times and Messiaen’s detailed dynamics within the chords failed to convince but Levit’s crystalline accompaniment in the development was sensual and played with ardent warmth. As the movement progressed the playing became a little sullied towards the climaxes spoiling the impression at times. Amen des anges, des saints, du chant des oiseaux transports the listener to the angelic sphere beginning with the angels and saints where the music is pure and sparse and phrasing by both pianists was effective and well shaped. Messiaen’s birdsong was still undeveloped in 1943 but he had a clear idea of the birds that would feature here, albeit in a stylized manner. Levit’s birds were not flawless but a sense of joyous freedom pervaded. Amen du jugement is horrific in character with more bells, this time the ‘bell of evidence’. Both performers created a sense of terror and awe and together with Amen de l’agonie de Jésus these were the most successful of the movements in terms of spiritual energy between the two players. Again, a quick segue launched us into Amen de la Consommation where the opening tempo was as fast as the closing tempo should have been. There are three clearly defined tempo increments in the movement that are designed to drive the music forward adding ecstatic joy and excitement that brings the work to it’s exuberant conclusion. Instead Levit and Hinterhäuser bulldozed their way through with scant regard for dynamic detail and less for the important articulation in piano one at the ‘Un peu plus vif’. Visions de l’Amen is a work that requires two souls who are on an equal spiritual plane and have reached that level of intuition that the playing becomes ‘one’. I did not get that impression from this performance that seemed rather workman-like and over reliant on the score. Levit’s Beethoven is masterful but Levit’s visions were not Messiaen’s Visions. BBC PROM - 13 28th July 2019 Des canyons aux étoiles… Nicolas Hodges (piano) Martin Owen (horn) David Hockings (xylorimba) Alex Neal (glockenspiel) BBC Symphony Orchestra Stephen Bryant (leader) Sakari Oramo , conductor It was with much excitement that I awaited the opening bars of Messiaen’s vision of ‘the resurrected in Paradise’ and ‘the beauties of the earth (its rocks, its birdsong) and the beauties of the physical sky and of the spiritual sky’ as Des canyons aux étoiles… is perhaps the most under-performed of all Messiaen’s orchestral pieces. Written for the bicentennial of US independence, it is the longest of Messiaen’s orchestral work (outdoing Turangalîla Symphonie by two movements and about 20 minutes) but using far less forces than the Symphonie – for example, one double bass as opposed to ten and stripped down woodwind and brass. It does, however retain a major part for piano but no Ondes Martenot, instead solo parts for horn, xylorimba and glockenspiel. I was not disappointed. The performance remained gripping throughout its 12 movements presenting a vast array of musical colours that conjured the vast desert and rocky imagery of the Utah landscape, and its unique ornithological aviary. From the outset of movement one (Le désert), the solitude of the horn solo, scampering scorpions and isolated birdsong immediately drew the listener into Messiaen’s sound world and the almost tinnitus inducing bowed crotales, piccolo and violin harmonics created the deafening silence of the desert. Colour has always been at the heart of Messiaen’s orchestral writing and the BBCSO delivered a vivid palette of hues throughout guided by the baton-less Sakari Oramo who just needed to take a little more time in the slow eighth movement (Les ressuscités et le chant de l’étoile Aldébaran) and the final carillon features in movement twelve (Zion Park et la Cité Céleste) to allow the music to breathe and the detailed textures to fully flourish. Horn soloist Martin Owen took full advantage of the Royal Albert Hall acoustic in Appel interstellaire with well judged pauses and animated communication with the audience. The score is peppered with new and experimental (for Messiaen) sounds including the eoliphone (wind machine), geophone (sand machine), cross bridge bowing in the strings and in movement five (Cedar Breaks et le Don de Crainte) a trumpet blowing into the mouthpiece only, creating strange glissandi that straddles the borders of mystery and the comic. Also, Messiaen’s musical alphabet (first used in his Méditations sur le mystère de la Sainte-Trinité) appears several times to spell out the biblical quotations that link the spiritual and physical elements in the work. The two solo piano movements (Le Cossyphe d’Heuglin – The white-browed robin and Le Moqueur polyglotte – The Mockingbird), were played with unshaken security and clear sense of musical architecture by Nicholas Hodges and the ‘bird’ interplay between piano and glockenspiel (played by Alex Neal ) was simply enthralling in Les ressuscités et le chant de l’étoile Aldébaran. David Hockings (xylorimba) is well known for his virtuosity and this was demonstrated laudably in movement eleven (Omao, Leiothrix, Elepaio, Shama) as well as some enthralling duet work with glockenspiel. For those audience members who felt they couldn’t quite stay the course, a great opportunity was missed to experience Messiaen’s vision as a whole in this rare and beguiling performance. ©M.Ball ​ © M.Ball Further review: Prom 13 Review of the the first British performance of Harawi. Interestingly given by Roy Bywood 'tenor' and John Boorman, piano. February 9th 1953 More reviews of Harawi kindly submitted by Nicholas Armfelt Quatuor pour la fin du temps and Messiaen's Maths On 26th March 2017 Concerts Penzance presented a Humphry Davy Science & Music Lecture on the subject of the mathematics and numerology in the first movement of Quatuor pour la fin du temps (Liturgie de cristal). This was followed by a complete performance of the Quatuor given by students of the Royal Academy of Music London. The often highly animated Marcus du Sautoy (Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford) delivered the lecture to a packed audience at Penwith College, Penzance, Cornwall. Sautoy is well placed on the subject being a former trumpet player and keen Messiaen enthusiast who has first hand knowledge of performing some of Messiaen’s work. He devised a visual animation (the Island) that used various shapes and forms including cogged wheels to demonstrate and draw comparisons with the number system that Messiaen used in Liturgie de cristal that for the uninitiated worked extremely well. His background knowledge of Messiaen was substantial although I became a little uncomfortable with the amount of emphasis placed on the use of serialism in Messiaen’s music. That aside the lecture remained engaged and highly communicative throughout. After the interval a complete performance of the Quatuor was given by Charles Dale-Harris (clarinet), Kate Oswin violin), Ghislaine McMullin (cello) and Joseph Havlet (piano). It must be said that this is a heck of a work for seasoned professionals to take on so all power to the elbows of these four fine players for this undertaking. It is not only the technical virtuosic ensemble playing needed in movements such as Vocalise pour l’ange qui announce la fin du temps and Danse de la fureur that is challenging but more the mental, spiritual concentration of the two Louange movements and the overall architecture of the entire work. The four musicians here remained highly committed despite some mechanical issues with the clarinet at times. Ghislaine McMullen’s Louange a l'éternité de Jésus was compelling with no distortion of line or intent. Contrastingly there was a real sense of energy and thrill in Danse de la fureur where the quartet captured the score with vivid immediacy. I am constantly heartened by the wealth of quality music making in the most south western corner of the UK and especially the genuine enthusiasm and interest shown for the music of Messiaen due in no small amount to the efforts of musicians such as Nigel Wicken and in the case of this concert, Tim Boulton and Concerts Penzance. ©M.Ball Pierre-Laurent Aimard performed Catalogue d'Oiseaux (complete) at Aldeburgh Festival UK 19 June 2016 When news broke several months ago that Pierre-Laurent Aimard would perform Messiaen’s Catalogue d’Oiseaux at the Aldeburgh Festival in its entirety, not in Messiaen’s written order and in one day from dawn to dusk and beyond, many seasoned concertgoers and Messiaen devotees thought the idea was bonkers and it would never work. How wrong they would be with the whole day sold out and over subscribed soon after booking opened. Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Roger Muraro and Michel Beroff are three pianists most closely associated with Messiaen’s piano music and all were pupils of Yvonne Loriod and the couple often referred to them as their (musical) children. So having Pierre-Laurent Aimard (Artistic Director of the Aldeburgh Festival) in the driving seat for this special event meant that there was no doubt whatsoever that it would not work. Aimard chose to place the pieces of the Catalogue by the time of day associated with the bird songs, so the concerts were presented thus: 4.30am Dawn – 1.00pm – Afternoon – 7.30pm – Dusk and 11.00pm – Night. 4.30am 'Dawn' Concert Hall Cafe. ©Sam Murray-Sutton I have to say that after performing in Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis the previous evening, it was somewhat of a struggled to get myself up and arrive in Snape for the first concert at 4.30am. (Hardy twitchers were at the reed beds at 3.30 and before the sun rose). However, any sense of fatigue soon dissolved as we the audience took our seats in the Snape Maltings Concert Hall Cafe facing the window and looking out on the reed beds as the sun rose to the strains of Messiaen’s Traquet Stapazin (Black-eared Wheatear), La Bouscarle (Cetti’s Warbler) and Traquet Rieur (Black Wheatear) all mingling with the Suffolk dawn chorus. At 1.00pm in the Britten Studio the ‘Afternoon’ concert revealed Le Buse Variable (Buzzard), L’alouette Calandrelle (Short-toed Lark), Le Loriot (Golden Oriole) and Le Merle Bleu (Blue Rock Thrush). The 7.30pm ‘Dusk’ concert was presented at RSPB Minsmere Nature Reserve outside on Whin Hill with Les Chocards des Alpes (Alpine Chough), Le Merle de Roche (Rock Thrush) and Le Courlis Cendre (Curlew). Finally back at the Britten Studio, ‘Night’ concluded with La Chouette Hulotte (Tawny Owl), L’Alouette Lulu (Woodlark) and La Rousserolle Effarvate (Reed Warbler). What was most striking throughout the day was Aimard’s complete sense of focus (not to mention stamina) in the three locations and how each acoustic space could respond to Messiaen’s aural ‘paintings’. These works are not merely transcribed songs of the titled bird but rather their entire natural habitat and the relationship with other birds within that habitat are all represented, so natural phenomena such as tranquil lakes and rushes, rugged mountain terrain, crashing waves of the sea, howling wind etc. all form part of the canvas. To present the Catalogue over a 19 hour period is impressive enough but to perform with such nuanced playing, emotional power and unshaken security was just astounding. Le Merle Bleu (Blue Rock Thrush) was simply breath-taking and left me speechless with its glittering and fluid passage work and sense of drama whereas La Chouette Hulotte (Tawny Owl) truly sent shivers up the spine with its depiction of ‘darkness, fear and beating heart’ with a call that at times sounds like (in Messiaen’s words) ‘a child being murdered’. A long way from the peaceful setting of La Bouscarle (Cetti’s Warbler) heard both by Aimard’s poised and piquant playing and ‘live’ by the bird itself in the reed beds at Snape. Presenting the 7.30pm ‘Dusk’ concert at RSPB Minsmere Nature Reserve outside on Whin Hill was a risky masterstroke given the unpredictability of the English summer but one that paid off. Yes there was a vexing wind that kept Aimard’s page-turner on her toes but the effect and musical impression was magical. Special mention must go to the BBC. Musical events in the open air are notoriously difficult to control in both volume and sound quality, but the BBC team got it just right. Having Tom McKinney announce throughout the day was also fitting as he has, (according to the booklet notes) been bird watching all of his life. The Festival book was lavish but just a shame that Messiaen’s descriptions were not printed in full for each piece. In between the concerts, other events took place in and around Snape including Nigel Paterson’s film: Dawn Chorus: The Sounds of Spring, a Festival church service, a concert by the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge at Blythburgh Church, an RSPB Walk and an illuminating talk by Christopher Dingle (Messiaen specialist and musicologist) and Nigel Collar (ornithologist). 1.00pm 'Afternoon' Britten Studio ©Matt Jolly For many years Yvonne Loriod’s account of this work had remained definitive, but Pierre-Laurent Aimard took it to a higher plane setting a tough benchmark for pianists such as those attending his master-classes during the previous week. It was Pierre-Laurent Aimard’s final year as artistic director of the Aldeburgh Festival and thanks must be given for the diversity of art and music that he brought to Suffolk over eight years but perhaps none more so than that of the 19th June 2016 where the entire landscape and natural beauty of Suffolk played a significant part in Messiaen’s and Aimard’s vision. ©M.Ball 7.30pm 'Dusk' RSPB Minsmere © Matt Jolly 11.00pm 'Night' Britten Studio, Snape. © Matt Jolly Pierre-Laurent Aimard Review of the all-Messiaen concert. St. Mary's Church Penzance, Cornwall. UK 4th June 2016. Featuring Malcolm Ball (ondes Martenot) and Peter Humphrey (piano), with Nigel Wicken (organ). 1. 5 Leçons de Solfege (1934) Nos.l,2,3,5,4. Ondes & piano. 2. O sacrum convivium (1937) soprano (Laura Nicholas) &Nigel Wicken (organ) 3. Two piano pieces played by Peter Humphrey: La colombe (1929) and Rondeau (1943). 4. Le merle noir (1952) flute & piano - (Pippa Drummond, flute; Paul Comeau piano). 5. Feuillets inedit s (unpublished pages) ondes & piano. 6. L'alouette lulu (1957) piano- (Peter Humphrey) 7. Vocalise (1935) Ondes & piano 8. Premiere communion de la Vierge (1944) piano. 9. Oraison des belles eaux (1937) Ondes & piano. 10. Joie et clarte des corps glorieux (1939), Nigel Wicken (organ) *** This all-Messiaen concert was a unique musical event, and it was applauded with great enthusiasm by an audience of over 70 people. A glance at the items in the programme with their dates shows that these are works from the earlier half of the composer's career, the latest in date being L'alouette lulu composed in 1957 when Messiaen was aged 49. The concert included authorized arrangements for ondes Martenot and piano along with some other fine works that have hitherto seldom been performed. None of the pieces is particularly obscure or difficult for the listener. Indeed the intention was for this to be a concert of attractive and accessible music, much of it extraordinarily beautiful - music that deserves to be heard more often. Many people will know of Messiaen's use of the Ondes Martenot in three of his greatest works: Trois petites liturgies de la Presence divine, Turangalila, and Saint François d'Assise. The pieces in this concert, however, were adaptations of the high melodic line of some smaller works, pieces originally written with pedagogical intent - sight-reading exercises or examination tests. In their modest way they often exemplify Messiaen's characteristic melodies, harmonies and rhythms. What is remarkable is their quality, and also their delightful deftness and charm. The 5 Leçons de Solfege (1934) for ondes and piano formed an ideal start to the concert. These sight-reading pieces, originally for soprano but readily adaptable for flute or for ondes, are easy on the ear, some sprightly, others with a mildly melancholy and wistful charm. We were not challenged with any of the loud swoopings and whoopings characteristic of the Ondes in parts of the large orchestral works. This evening we experienced the quieter and ethereal qualities. O sacrum convivium (1937), beautifully sung by the soprano Laura Nicholas accompanied by Nigel Wicken on the organ. This version is rarely performed, though the a capella version is often sung by cathedral choirs. This was a spellbinding and very moving performance. The four piano solos, admirably played by Peter Humphrey, were all remarkably different from one another. La colombe (1929) was delicately evocative; Rondeau (1943) came across as exciting and dazzling with a delightful lightness of touch; La premiere communion de la Vierge (1944) communicated a beautiful and deeply spiritual experience. L'alouette lulu (1957) was wonderful: velvet-dark chords representing night, magical high descending trills of the woodlark, the more percussive brilliance of the nightingale. Le merle noir (1952) for flute (Pippa Drummond) and piano (Paul Comeau) was sensational in its virtuosity and brilliance. The audience was bowled over by it. Of the pieces for ondes and piano, which constituted the bulk of the concert, it was the Oraison des belles eaux that built up to the most sustained intensity. Malcolm Ball and Peter Humphrey achieved an extraordinarily subtle, well-graduated, and compelling melodic and chordal progression. The emotion was overwhelming. The concert concluded with Joie et clarte des corps glorieux (1939) played on the organ by Nigel Wicken using the exact stops and registrations that are indicated in the score. The "joy and radiance" resounded in the church, an exhilarating and fitting culmination. Nicholas Armfelt (June 2016) Turangalîla Symphonie Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela. Gustavo Dudamel conductor, Yuja Wang, piano, Cynthia Millar, Ondes Martenot Royal Festival Hall London. 16th January 2016 Some might say there was something more dazzling than the Lumiere Light Festival showing over London on the 16th of January and that was the appearance of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela under Gustavo Dudamel at London’s Southbank performing Messiaen’s mighty Turangalîla Symphonie. Messiaen loved to ‘dazzle’ and we were certainly treated to an aural and visual feast from the moment piano soloist Yuja Wang strode onto the Royal Festival Hall stage sporting a sparkling micro mini dress with matching shoes only out shone by her dazzling and scintillating performance of this quasi piano concerto. Ms. Wang is well known for her concerto performances of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Shostakovich etc. but not later 20th century works such as this. She may not have this music completely in her bones as Pierre-Laurant Aimard and indeed she seemed a little over reliant on the score at times, but she played the most demanding passages with unshaken security and a kaleidoscopic dynamic sense. This was particularly evident in movement 6 (Jardin du sommeil d’amour) where Messiaen had just started to develop his birdsong writing. Her delicate touch and ‘improvisatory’ approach allowed Messiaen’s birds to flit effortlessly over a cushion of strings and Ondes Martenot melody. As attractive and, again, dazzling her six inch stiletto heels and three inch platform shoes were, they did impair her pedaling at times where some resonances were abruptly cut short and not fully controlled. This was a minor glitch in an otherwise quite staggering performance. Turangalîla Symphonie is new fair for the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra and Dudamel added to their repertoire in 2015. This team with Yuja Wang and Cynthia Millar have performed the work in Barcelona, Luxembourg, London and will play in Cologne on the 24th January. The work is not new to ondist Cynthia Millar, having played it countless times over many years now. Her performance here demonstrated just how well attuned her ear is to tonal and dynamic balance of her instrument with the rest of the orchestra. Dudamel stuck rigidly to Messiaen’s orchestral numbers that are inflated in all departments including 10 double basses. I have heard this piece where reductions were made and it really spoils the effect, balance and colour, but not so on this occasion. He conducted with precision and passion coaxing out the delicate ‘flower motif’ played by woodwinds, contrasting this with the burnished white-hot fortissimo ‘statue theme’ in the brass. He also stuck well to Messiaen’s revised tempi with just movement 5 (Joie du sang des étoiles) taking a few bars to settle. I felt the tam tam was a little cautious in the climaxes and the staggered positioning of the metallic instruments (vibraphone, celeste and keyed glock) did not create the intended gamelan effect that Messiaen wanted. Bruce Hodges’ progamme notes were rather too generalised and contained a few minor inaccuracies. He alluded to Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde but failed to place Turangalila within Messiaen’s own Tristan trilogy (Harawi, Turangalîla Symphonie and Cinq Rechants). This said, the ‘force’ was certainly with Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra and the vitality and energy that the orchestra is famous for was 95% evident. I reserve 100% for the performance given by the National Youth Orchestra of GB under Sir Andrew Davis in a 2001 BBC Prom. © Malcolm Ball BBC Proms Friday 7th August 2015 Royal Albert Hall, London. Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) Orchestration realised by Christopher Dingle (b. 1971) Un oiseau des arbres de Vie (Oiseau tui) (1987/8, orch.2013/14) world premiere. ‘On either side of the river is the tree of life…’ (Revelations 22:2) ‘Bless the Lord, all birds of the air’ (Daniel 3:80) For those of us who felt that Peter Hill’s recent and exciting discovery of the piano piece ‘La fauvette passerinette ’ was the last piece of Messiaen’s manuscripts to see a new light of day since the composers’ death, image our thrill to hear of this 4 minute gem that emerged from the work desk in Paris! This said, many scholars and enthusiasts have known about ‘Un oiseau des arbres de Vie (Oiseau tui) ’ as Chris Dingle pointed out in the highly illuminating Proms Extra talk that was shared with Peter Hill. Messiaen planned for a pair of movements in ‘Éclairs sur l’Au-delà… ’ that featured the tui bird from New Zealand and the lyrebird from Australia. The lyrebird remained in the finished work but Messiaen, reluctantly decided to omit the tui from Éclairs. He had, however, written all the music for the movement in a three stave short score and characteristically approved this by marking ‘Bien’ to note its completion. Thanks to Peter Hill who was granted a copy from Messiaen’s widow Yvonne Loriod-Messiaen, Chris Dingle set about the daunting task of orchestrating the movement. It would be very hard to find another as well qualified as Chris to undertake such a task with his boundless knowledge of Messiaen’s final works (especially Éclairs) and a thorough understanding of the orchestral palette used by Messiaen. The song of the tui is remarkable for its vast vocal range as well as being a great imitator of, not just other birds, but also many environmental sounds it hears such as percussive knocks and clicks, swooping glissandi and even the human voice. As one who has been fortunate enough to see and hear this bird first hand (on Tiritiri Matangi Island NZ) I can confirm it is one of the most vocally adept of all the avian species. The result is a 4-minute virtuosic tour de force in all the orchestral departments. Messiaen’s beloved trio of marimba, xylorimba and xylophone featured prominently and executed with great aplomb by the percussionists of the BBC Philharmonic. The tui’s song flits around the orchestra of multiple woodwind, brass and strings at great speed and dazzling metrical complexity often culminating (and concluding) by ‘tumbling’ onto three cellos. The wood blocks are featured in an almost concerto-like capacity and there are smacks of ‘Oiseaux exotiques ’ with repeated tutti stabs, but as Chris Dingle pointed out, the music contains clearly recognisable ‘Messiaen’ but at the same time colours and traits new to his birdsong writing. And it is ‘colour’ that really dazzled us in the Royal Albert Hall this evening by craftsman of 20th (and 21st) century composer/orchestrators. Mozart kicked off the first half with the not too often heard Idomeneo – ballet music and although not 20th century, Messiaen considered Mozart a great colourist who’s influence remained with him throughout his life. Jean-Efflam Bavouzet gave a glittering and moving account of Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major as well as the breath-taking Etude de concert by Pierné by way of an encore, Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements , Colin Matthews’s delicate and translucent orchestration of Oiseaux tristes from the piano suite Miroirs by Ravel and Ravel’s own orchestral masterpiece La Valse concluding the proceedings. The BBC Philharmonic was on top form in all departments driven by the effervescent Nicholas Collon who coaxed out all the subtle nuances in this feast of nature and colour. © M.Ball Peter Hill and Christopher Dingle ©M.Ball Turangalila Symphonie Philharmonia Orchestra. Esa-Pekka Salonen conductor, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano, Valérie Hartmann-Claverie, Ondes Martenot. Royal Festival Hall London. 28th May 2015 The last time I reviewed the Philharmonia performing Turangalîla Symphonie was back in 2008, Messiaen’s centenary year when they performed the work in sunny Southend-on-Sea, Essex (see below) and the only change in personnel in this performance was ondist Valérie Hartmann-Claverie (Jacques Tchamkerten was in the ondes chair in Southend). This was the final concert in the Philharmonia’s series “City of Light – Paris, 1900–1950” and if you want to go out with a bang then Turangalîla is the ideal choice. But before the mighty Symphonie, we were treated to some sonorous delights of a different kind beginning with Debussy’s Syrinx for solo flute and indeed it could be said that the orchestra ‘grew’ throughout the evening with Simon Coles alone on stage followed by the rarely heard La damoiselle élue for female chorus, mezzo and soprano solo and orchestra, then Turangalîla where the RFH stage was bursting at the seams. From the opening bars of the Introduction it was clear that Messiaen’s ‘baby’ was in safe hands as of course it has been with Salonen for many years now. The orchestral colours so important for Messiaen were clearly defined here and exquisitely balanced throughout. The keyboards (celeste, keyed glock and vibraphone) were positioned correctly at the front of the stage but sadly the mallets used on the vibraphone were too soft to convey the clanging gamelan effect that Messiaen intended. Salonen’s tempi were well judged throughout but for (and this was the case in 2008) the 9th movement where Messiaen revised the tempo from quaver 100 to 80. Salonen produced a rather jaunty jog rather than the mysterious strange and ethereal atmosphere created by ondes, percussion, keyboards and 13 solo strings. If the tempo is too fast the timbral detail and rhythmic personalities are lost or at least thrown into relief. This aside, Salonen and the orchestra produced an epic performance with soloists Valérie Hartmann-Claverie playing entirely from memory with great command and expressive intensity and Pierre-Laurent Aimard setting the whole piece alight with his stunning virtuosity and consistent engagement befitting in this glittering finale to the ‘City of Light’. © MB Messiaenfestival Orgelpark 22 February 2015 Het Orgelpark, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Fête des Belles Eaux for 6 Ondes Martenot’s Fabienne Martin, Pascale Rousse-Lacordaire, Philippe Arrieus, Haruka Ogawa, Dominique Kim, Augustin Viard. Quatuor pour la fin du temps Thomas Dieltjens, piano Benjamin Dieltjens, clarinet Aki Sauliere, violin Raphael Bell, cello This concert was the culmination of a Messiaen festival organised by Johan Luijmes, (artistic director) and his team at the colourful and attractive Orgelpark venue in Amsterdam. Previous concerts in the series featured such luminaries as Ralph van Raat performing Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant Jesus , Berry van Berkum performing Les Corps Glorieux and Musici Nederlands Kamerkoor Klaas Stok with Marcel Verheggen performing Apparition de l’Eglise Eternelle, O Sacrum convivium, L’Ascension, Cinq Rechants, Le Banquet céleste . Although I was unable to attend the entire festival I was determined to make the trip to Amsterdam on Sunday the 22nd to see and hear this performance of Fête des Belles Eaux by ‘Vecteur Ondes ’ (Fabienne Martin, Pascale Rousse-Lacordaire, Philippe Arrieus, Haruka Ogawa, Dominique Kim and Augustin Viard). This piece is so rarely heard live that any performance that is only a short plan trip away is most definitely worthwhile. Messiaen was one of 20 composers commissioned to write a piece in 1937 for a festival of sound, water and light (a ‘son et lumière’) that took place along the river Seine in Paris and after seeing and hearing Maurice Martenot’s new electronic invention in 1928 he opted for a piece featuring 6 Ondes Martenot’s. The performance began after dark where fireworks in the sky were mirrored by jets of water combined with the harmonies of the music. Nowadays we settle for the six Ondists seated in a semicircle in the comfort of a concert hall, as was the case on the 22nd. The virtuosic first Ondes part (the role originally played by Ginette Martenot the inventors’ sister and later Jeanne Loriod) was superbly executed by Fabienne Martin who coaxed the most expressive qualities and emotional intensity from the instrument in movements 4 and 6. The musical material for these two movements later found its way into the Quatuor. Pascale Rousse-Lacordaire guided the overall performance clearly and concisely resulting in excellent ensemble and dynamic expression throughout. Those of you familiar with the oak coloured wooden cabinet style that Maurice Martenot produced together with the eye catching lotus leaf shaped ‘palme’ loudspeaker would have been slightly disappointed as all the performers used the Ondea, a modern version of the original that has no such ‘art nouveau’ qualities. This is not a problem, as the sound quality and characteristics of the Ondea is very close to that of the original Martenot instrument and of course much more reliable, but being a little old fashioned, I just like the aesthetic of the original instrument. However, the metallique speakers (a resonating gong) were used to create the highly effective shimmering in the 6th movement. Also, it wasn’t until 2003 that the new score of Fête des Belles Eaux was published and the timbre registrations were written for the series 7 Ondes Martenot that only includes 3 speakers: Principle, Reverberation and Metallique (D1,D2 and D3). This was a memorable performance of the highest quality that clearly demonstrated the organic, human expressive quality of these instruments that have stood the test of time and sets it aside from modern day synthesizers. The second half of the concert was given over to a scintillating performance of Quatuor pour la fin du temps perhaps Messiaen’s most performed work. If this is the case, then it is still extraordinary how every performance brings something different to the work. Benjamin Dieltjens, Aki Sauliere, Raphael Bell performed their respective ‘solo’s’ with rapt intensity all underpinned by Thomas Dieltjens’ secure, no nonsense pianism that totally captivated the audience throughout. A true Amsterdam standing ovation for both performances was thoroughly deserved. As an extra ‘treat’ there was a running video of an interview with Messiaen and Dutch maestro Reinbert de Leew centred on a performance of La Transfiguration de notre-Seigneur Jésus Christ – what more could we ask for? All thanks to Johan Luijmes and Karlijne Swart for their tireless efforts and hospitality. ©M.Ball Time Stood Still in Wivenhoe Many of you reading this article would never have heard of Wivenhoe, a small town and ‘civil parish’ (as Wikipedia puts it) nestled in northeastern Essex. However, if I mention Colchester, the oldest recorded town in England, the numbers shoot up. Wivenhoe is a mere 3 miles south east of Colchester where the Roman River Music Festival has been delighting people with top quality performances as well as a strong out reaching educational programme since its foundation in 2000. The concert given on the 30th September 2014 at St. Mary the Virgin Church, Wivenhoe brought together four extraordinary musicians to perform Messiaen’s Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps (Quartet for the End of Time) - Zsolt-Tihamér Visontay, violin (standing in at short notice for Jennifer Pike), Guy Johnston, cello, Mark Simpson clarinet and Tom Poster, piano. Mark Simpson, former BBC Young Musician and Composer of the Year, opened proceedings with Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Cradle Song with Tom Poster, first prize winner at the Scottish International Piano Competition and keyboard sections of BBC Young Musician of the Year. With dimmed lighting to almost dark the duo created exactly the right atmosphere for the evening and their poised and piquant playing conveyed just enough unsentimental lyricism that this miniature gem requires. Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio in D minor showcased the virtuosic talents of Guy Johnston (another BBC Young Musician of the Year) Tom Poster and Zsolt-Tihamér Visontay (concert master of the Phiharmonia). This was a compelling performance played with a sense of spontaneity and often-breathtaking dramatic intensity that prompted spontaneous audience reaction between movements. The almost tangible telepathy between these musicians produced enthralling climaxes and changes of texture and mood without being confrontational. After a well-deserved break, all four musicians joined together for Messiaen’s most performed work. From the opening bars of Liturgie de cristal it was clear that a special ‘chemistry’ was at work, which is surprising and rare for a group who I suspect, have not worked together as a unit for very long. This was chamber music at its very finest. Mark Simpson’s clarinet seemed, at times, to come from another world in ‘Abîme des oiseaux’ . The long sustained tones truly did come from nothing and grew to a shattering fortissimo but with perfect tonal control throughout as were the fiendishly difficult 7 note echo figures that stride the entire range of the instrument and where many players come to grief. I have heard Messiaen’s Quartet many (many!) times but never before have I experienced the ‘Danse de la fureur pour les sept trompettes’ played with such unabashed fury! ‘Louange à l’éternité de Jésus’ and ‘Louange de l’immortalité de Jésus’ for cello and piano and violin and piano respectively, demonstrated perfect timbral and temporal control from Tom Poster allowing Guy Johnston’s cello and Zsolt-Tihamér Visontay’s violin to float effortlessly in the heights. This was a rare spiritually engaging performance where time really did seem to stand still. There was just a slight hint of tonal ‘fluff’ on the final violin note but by that time we were all on a higher plane. All power to the elbow of Orlando Jopling for programming such a wonderful event in this quaint corner of the Essex countryside. We all eagerly await 2015! St. François d’Assise in Madrid. 13th July 2011 Instalación: Emilia e Ilya Kabakov Disposición escénica: Giuseppe Frigeni Figurinista: Robby Duiveman Iluminador Jean Kalman Director del coro: Andrés Máspero El angel: Camilla Tilling Saint François: Alejandro Marco-Buhrmester El leproso: Michael König Frère Léon: Wiard Withold Frère Massée: Tom Randle Frère Éllie: Gerhard Siegel Frère Bernard: Victor von Halem Frère Sylvestre: Vladimir Kapshuk Coro Titular del Teatro Real y Coro de la Generalitat Valenciana SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden - Freiburg Musical Director: Sylvain Cambreling Since the historical Paris premier of St François d’Assise in 1983 there appears an evolution of two particular trends when staging this immense musical epic. On the one hand directors stick pretty closely to Messiaen’s sometimes detailed production notes while on the other hand some stray so far that if it were not for the music one might sometimes wonder if we’re watching the same work. Teatro Real’s Madrid offering most definitely falls into the former catagory. Madrid’s artistic director Gerard Mortier continues his ‘dream’ of staging St Francois wherever he goes. Directing team Emilia and Ilya Kabakov brought their gigantic tilting dome first seen in the Ruhr Triennale production of 2003 to the Madrid Arena (this and the musical forces were deemed too large to house in Teatro Real’s theatre at opera square in the centre of Madrid). Adapted sports spaces such as the arena are never ideal for ‘acoustic’ musical events even with the large forces employed by Messiaen. The orchestra and choir were reasonably well focused and balanced but some solo roles that were played out on the raised bridge platform to the front and sides struggled with projection at times in particular Gerhard Siegel as Brother Elías. Alejandro Marco-Buhrmester was convincingly immersed throughout as St François and performed with rapt intensity at times. Tom Randle is always a pleasure to see in the role of Brother Masseo bringing a sense of spontaneity to the part although he had considerably less to do in this production than the Nederlandse Opera where he last appeared in the role. Camilla Tilling is by far my favourite Angel. She is familiar with this part now and one is totally transported by her firmly centered non-operatic sound with a purity found nowhere else. Her ‘Noh’-like movements are exactly as Messiaen wished and this is true of the entire production which was meditative rather than sensational – minimal rather than spectacular. Messiaen’s sense of time and tempo are often hard to grasp but musical director Sylvain Cambreling guided the 170 odd performers with security and expressive understanding. The expanded SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden- Freiberg produced some fabulous textures and colours. However, discipline and etiquette was less impressive with members of the brass section holding conversations and even coming and going off stage became a distraction at times. The static ‘stained glass’ dome added coloured lighting throughout -sometimes changing imperceptibly. This plus the candle-lit lighting in the choir gave the whole space an atmospheric spiritual feel. ‘Static’ is the adjective that keeps surfacing in relation to this production and at times one just wished for slightly more animation from characters or stage direction particularly in the Sermon to the Birds where Messiaen’s music is so highly animated we, the audience just had to use a little too much of our own imagination. A huge bird cage completed the stage design with live doves that appeared to respond to light intensity and became animated when lit and less so when in shade. It was therefore a shame that they were not fully lit in the final 2 minuets of the opera – it would have been heart warming to see them joyously flapping to the illuminated brilliance of the final C major chord! It was also a shame that some of the Spanish opera going clientele could not stay the course as they would surely have been spiritually rewarded at the end of this highly successful production that may never be seen again in Spain for many years. © Malcolm Ball St. François in Amsterdam Saint François d’Assise. De Nederlandse Opera, Het Muziektheater, Amsterdam. 1-6-2008. “Know the joy of the blessed by gentleness of colour and melody…and may there be opened for thee the secrets of glory!” These are the words sung by the Angel in Messiaen’s ‘musical spectacle’ (his description) and unlike some recent stagings of Saint François d’Assise , Der Nederlanse Opera production focuses on the words colour and melody with Pierre Audi and his production team ever mindful of Messiaen’s intentions. From the opening scene (La Croix) the lighting and set designs are inventive and appropriate without us having to delve into the recesses of our minds to work out what is going on. The huge expanded Residentie Orkest sprawled from the rear of the stage with musical director Ingo Metzmacher plying his craft from centre stage with great authority and control throughout and thus the orchestra became a genuine character in the opera. Remarkably this sonic powerhouse of 100 plus musicians never once over-powered the voices, a testament to the genius of Messiaen’s orchestration, the sensitivity of Ingo Metzmacher and the acoustics of the Muziektheater. Camilla Tilling (L’Ange) gave a compelling performance both vocally and theatrically. The 5th tableau (L’Ange musicien) in particular left the entire Muziektheater audience utterly breathless and mesmerised with her exquisite vocal line complemented by the ‘other-worldliness’ of the three Ondes Martenot’s and moving with the elegance and ritual of a Noh actor fulfilled Messiaen’s every wish. Angelo Figus’s costumes reflected Messiaen’s vision appropriately without compromise or over indulgence and only the Leper costume lacked a little impact in terms of repulsiveness. Rod Gilfry (Saint François) delivered just the right amount of humility when needed in this mammoth role and despite a troublesome throat at times managed to portray vocally the Saint’s despair, anguish and joy to great effect. All the Fransiscan Brothers responded well to their individual characterization’s, however it was Tom Randle (Frère Massée), who is depicted as rather naïve and innocent, was in danger of ‘stealing the show’ with his witty interactions and mannerisms. Indeed the one ‘masterstroke’ of Pierre Audi’s production was to introduce a group of children in the ‘Sermon to the birds’ where Randle really came into his own with the children clearly enjoying the playful banter. For me this scene communicated and worked far better than any ornithological wildlife film footage ever can. Great use was made of the space and various levels in the Muziektheater with minimal but effective scene changes smoothly articulated. The choir of De Nederlandse Opera were really made to feel an integral part of the production and not just a static sound source at the back of the stage. Their disciplined and well drilled performance driven by Martin Wright. Pierre Audi has brought Saint François d’Assise into the 21st century while at the same time retaining the spirit of Messiaen’s intentions and has succeeded in highlighting the human and spiritual world of Saint François that made the 5 hours of this opera seem like a celestial ‘moment’. ©Malcolm Ball A selection of reviews and highlights from 2008 - Messiaen's centenary. Messiaen in Cambridge 5th March 2008 West Road Concert Hall Turangalila Symphonie CUMS 1 Orchestra – Matthew Schellhorn piano – Jacques Tchamkerten Ondes Martenot – Baldur Brönnimann Guest conductor. When the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain tackled Turangalila Symphonie at the 2001 Proms to much deserved acclaim, we all marvelled at how an orchestra made up of people no older than 19 years of age could bring so much musicality, verve and excitement to this work in the midst of, it has to be said, some rather workman like performances presented by some seasoned professional orchestras around this time. It is generally accepted that NYO is the cream of our musical youth with the highest standards of teaching and coaching, so could any other aspiring young person’s ensemble achieve such standards? The answer is most definitely ‘yes’ as was experienced by the Cambridge University Musical Society (CUMS) concert at West Road Concert Hall. Baldur Brönnimann directed with authority if lacking a little dynamism and ensemble, after some slight shaky moments during movement two, gained cohesion and confidence. There was plenty of power when needed despite the somewhat reduced numbers in some sections. Messiaen specifies (rather optimistically!) for example 10 double basses rather than the 7 here although there was no loss of bottom right from the opening bars in the lower strings. The woodwind section was clear, bright and well articulated especially the capricious bassoon and piccolo in Chant d’amour 2 and the clarinets positively blossomed in the ‘flower theme’ with beautiful tone and control. Only the brass section suffered a little from depletion and the stratospheric D trumpet was missed in the climactic bar before the final Trés lent of the Final. Special mention should be made of the percussion section who in a restricted and confined space covered everything with great aplomb. Soloists Matthew Schellhorn and Jacques Tchamkerten are becoming quite a ‘team’ now and who wouldn’t want this pair as part of any Messiaen ‘team’? Matthew began the evening’s proceedings with a lucid and fact packed presentation of the Symphonie that concluded with Jacques Tchamkerten introducing the Ondes Martenot with both Matthew and Jacques performing a few bars of Jardin du sommeil d’amour demonstrating how sensitive Jacques Tchamkerten is as a player and the Ondes Martenot is as an instrument. Matthew Schellhorn’s total command of this virtuoso piano part was never more aptly apparent than in the cadenza at the end of Joie du sang des étoiles – totally breathtaking! This was a special evening for CUMS and one that all involved should be proud and hold dear to their hearts for a long time. A great achievement. 22nd March 2008 King’s College Chapel. Apparition de l’Église éternelle - Trois petites liturgies de la presence divine CUCO – Peter Stevens organ - Choral Scholars of Clare College - Choral Scholars of Gonville and Caius College – Matthew Schellhorn piano – Jacques Tchamkerten Ondes Martenot – Stephen Cleobury conductor. We knew we were in for a special evening right from the opening bars of Apparition de l’Église éternelle given by Peter Stevens at the mighty King’s organ. Peter Steven’s well controlled crescendo culminating in the Harrison and Harrison awesome 32’ almost literally made the earth move for us! This is the kind of building to hear this work and Stevens made the most of the massive space and reverberation that was both moving and awe-inspiring. Even more special was Stephen Cleobury’s handling of Trois petites liturgies de la presence divine . With such a strange combination of instruments, this is a difficult work to balance dynamically and presents a challenge to any conductor even in the best concert halls let alone a lively and unforgiving acoustic such as King’s. However, Stephen Cleobury is well accustomed to the reverberation in the chapel and his timed pauses were just enough for us to savour the huge climaxes and not lose momentum. Tempos were exactly right. Bright without being rushed and the slow tempos, mystical without being turgid. The Cambridge University Chamber Orchestra played with precision and style throughout and combined with the solo piano and Ondes Martenot parts, Messiaen’s stained glass effects were as dazzling as the King’s Chapel windows themselves! Everything was crystal clear from the gently tapping maracas to the earth shattering tam tam crescendos. Again, the Schellhorn/Tchamkerten ‘team’ performed with typical style, sensitivity and character, never over playing and always with the utmost musical awareness. The real ‘stars’ of the evening though were undoubtedly the ladies of Clare and Gonville and Caius Colleges. There are nowadays many recordings of Trois petites liturgies de la presence divine however very few can boast perfection in terms of balance and vocal presentation that Messiaen himself envisioned. I strongly believe that this choir, on this occasion did. Singing and chanting in unison as the vocal part requires here can have as many pitfalls as complex harmonic performing but this choir with it’s crystalline diction and faultless intonation was way up there with the finest. Praise indeed, but praise well deserved. ©Malcolm Ball Turangalila Symphonie Philharmonia Orchestra. Esa-Pekka Salonen conductor, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano, Jacques Tchamkerten, Ondes Martenot. Cliffs Pavilion, Southend-on Sea. 15 February 2008 Southend-on-sea is not the first location to spring to mind when thinking of a performance of Messiaen’s mighty Turangalila Symphonie . However, if one thinks of the gayety of children playing on the sun-kissed seafront in summer, the noisy cacophony of the fairground and young lovers strolling along the promenade at night bathed in Southend’s famous multi-fluorescent and colourful illuminations (second only to Blackpool) the heart of Turangalila isn’t that far removed! The Philharmonia are key players in the South Bank Centre Messiaen Festival driven by the tireless and seemingly unflagging Pierre-Laurent Aimard as artistic Festival director. This team has and will be presenting Turangalila many times throughout the year and it was refreshing to experience such an event in the Essex seaside town. The main draw back to mounting such a concert at the Cliffs Pavilion is that by nature it is more suited to musical theatre where the orchestra is positioned below in front of the stage whereby audience members seated in the stalls (which is un-raked until half way up the auditorium) can hear a good balance of vocal on stage and music from a ‘pit’ position below. Having a full orchestra on stage meant that those in the first part of the stalls experience some imbalance because brass, percussion and some woodwinds that are behind the strings consequently get a little lost. Having said this, I’m sure that these balance problems did not arise if seated in the circle or the boxes. Because of the restricted room on stage the orchestra was somewhat reduced in numbers and even then the percussion department especially seemed to lack the necessary elbow room needed to project some moments in the music and it was a shame that all the 'gamelan' type instruments (keyboard percussion) could not be altogether (the vibraphone being at the side). Esa-Pekka Salonen did a sterling job of holding everything together in what must have seemed an almost straightjacket situation. Salonen knows this music well now and drew out some beautiful nuances from woodwind and strings as well as some amazingly exciting tutti moments. Indeed, I don’t think I’ve heard the last chord of Joie de Sang des Étoiles held for so long since the early days of Maurice La Roux! There was one slight breathtaking moment of the panic kind when in Turangalila 2 the tam tam seemed to take forever to enter and crescendo before the final seven bars. Only the ninth movement: Turangalila 3 I thought lost a little mystery due to a rather too well paced tempo. I have found Jacques Tchamkerten to be one of the most sensitive ondists around. His playing was always well balanced even in the fortissimo climaxes, which in the wrong hands can be ear splittingly loud. Pierre-Laurent Aimard makes the virtuoso piano part look effortless now and one is reminded of Yvonne Loriod in her hey day with that total and absolute involvement with not just the piano part but the entire orchestral canvas. What is more extraordinary about Aimard is the mental and physical work-load of performing the complete Vingt Regards and goodness knows how many Turangalila’s in such a short space of time, as well as overseeing the entire Messiaen Festival. A truly super-human task and we in Great Britain should be so thankful that this Messiaen and Loriod taught Frenchman chose to grace us with his presence for the centenary. The good people of Southend were treated to a particularly fine bonus in the form of a pre concert talk and performance of Quatour pour la Fin du Temps no less, given by soloists of the Philharmonia (Barnaby Robson, clarinet, James Clark, violin, David Cohen, cello) and Messiaen aficionado Matthew Schellhorn, piano. This was a heart felt and meaningful performance full of colour and tight ensemble. Despite what looked like Barnaby Robson suffering from the British winter he draw some stunning colours and dynamics from the clarinet in Abime des oiseaux where notes seemed to literally emerge from the depths! So, fish and chips and candyfloss aside, Messiaen was put firmly on the Southend-on- sea menu on Friday the 15th. Let’s hope for more here in the future. © Malcolm Ball Book reviews Messiaen l'empreinte d'un géant. Catherine Lechner-Reydellet ISBN-10: 2840495112 - ISBN-13: 978-2840495116 Pub. Editions Seguier in French. Nicholas Armfelt writes: If I tell you that Catherine Lechner-Reydellet writes in a slightly awkwardly poetic French and that she makes a terrible lot of blunders ("François" instead of Pascal Messiaen), dozens (literally) of proper names mis-spelt ("Aymard", Charles "Yves" etc. etc.), you may expect my judgement of the book and its editor to be pretty negative. However the bulk of the book is fascinating and informative because she has assembled a whole lot of "témoignages". These 'witnesses" all write very well about their recollections of Messiaen. You get a brief biography of the contributor and a list of his/her works. The "témoignages" take a couple of pages each. Lots and lots of witnesses, all of them interesting, covering a wonderfully wide range of subjects. Messiaen as conductor(!), for example. And so very many of them praise Messiaen as an incredibly good pianist. Contributors include Louis Thiry, Raffi Ourgandjian, Sigune von Osten, Georges Prêtre (on the first performance of Chronochromie)..etc. I was terribly moved by the testimony of Odette Gartenlaub, the very first pupil to be inscribed in Messiaen's class at the Paris Conservatoire in 1941, the touching letter from Claude Delvincourt telling her that she had to leave because she was Jewish, and the three imploring letters from Messiaen asking her (without success) to rejoin after the Liberation. The book includes numerous letters by Messiaen and by Yvonne Loriod, all of them reproduced both in Facsimile and printed transcription. Of particular interest is the long section by Gaëtan Puaud on the Festival Messiaen au Pays de la Meije. OLIVIER MESSIAEN: Oiseaux exotiques Peter Hill and Nigel Simeone Series: Landmarks in Music Since 1950 Ashgate ISBN: 0 7546 5630 6 This is the fourth in the series ‘Landmarks in Music since 1950’, series editor Wyndham Thomas and published by Ashgate. The others being: Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 8 – Louis Andriessen: Da Staat and Gyorgy Kurtág: The Saying of Péter Bornemisza op.7. A fifth volume, Nicholas Maw: Odyssey is to be published in 2008. Each book features a general introduction of the work under discussion, details of commission and composition history, contextual discussion of stylistic, generic and international influences and precedents, an analysis of the work, survey of its reception, a bibliography and discography and most importantly a CD recording. OLIVIER MESSIAEN: Oiseaux exotiques shows Ashgate’s ongoing commitment to the work of Messiaen and the well-honed team of Hill and Simeone provide a highly readable and communicable account of this seminal work. Even in the analysis (Commentary) chapter of the book where often in these textbooks language and technical detail soar to heady heights understood only by those in revered university chambers, this is pitched ideally and is approachable from enthusiasts as well as students and academia. Although the book is centred on Oiseaux exotiques, Hill and Simeone give detailed accounts of Messiaen’s life and work leading up to its composition and first performance. Facts that hitherto have never found their way into the biographies and text books in the past. Of particular interest here is the origins and birth of Domain Musical where, in typical Hill and Simeone style, they unearth detailed facts and dates mapping its development under Boulez and the setting up of the concert series at the Petit Marigny Theatre. We are also treated to a lengthy précis of Oiseaux exotique’s predecessor Reveil des Oiseaux and for the first time in print we see Messiaen’s preliminary bird notations transcribed from his many cahiers and trace their development into the works. There are audio examples of these on the accompanying CD played impeccably by Peter Hill. The complete performance of Oiseaux exotiques is taken from the original Vega recording that was made at the world premiere in the Petit Marigny Theatre 1956. In the chapter: First Performance, Reception and Publication, Hill and Simeone draw our attention to some American… I almost hesitate to call them composers, who were working with similar and sometimes the same bird recordings Messiaen was using around the same time. Jim Fassett who became director of CBS Radio’s music department in the 1940s produced an LP with the title Music and Bird Songs. Fasset had an obvious interest in ornithology and was enthused by the songs of the Wood Thrush, Cardinal etc but he manipulated the songs by slowing them down and changing the pitch to produce his own rather banal popular song melodies. Much worse than this and excruciatingly embarrassing to listen to was Johan Dalgas Frisch’s work where birdsongs were admirably collected as field recordings but then were added to tunes such as Sukiyaki and Swanee River! We have only to thank heaven that Messiaen never went down that road! We are beginning to see a wealth of Messiaen material now leading up to the centenary in 2008 and a good deal of this is ‘British made’ thanks to the likes of Christopher Dingle, Stephen Broad and of course Nigel Simeone and Peter Hill. The book is presented in the usual high quality Ashgate style with beautifully set musical examples. Perhaps the only one wish is that a few plates of the actual birds would not have gone a miss in such a study although a small internet trawl will reveal these unlike the treasured material contained within these leaves. ©MB ​ ​ MESSIAEN by Peter Hill & Nigel Simeone. Yale University Press ISBN 0-300-10907-5 (2005) This is very ‘special’ book. ‘Special’ because unlike most books that have been written about Olivier Messiaen this is the first to reveal the almost day to day working life of one of the twentieth century’s most important musical giants. We know there is something ‘special’ in store just by the book’s cover photograph of Messiaen – to my knowledge rarely seen. Pianist Peter Hill and musicologist Nigel Simeone have long associations with both Messiaen and more especially Yvonne Loriod-Messiaen and Peter Hill is well known for the almost definitive study of the music of Messiaen, The Messiaen Companion (see bibliography ). Nigel Simeone has written many accounts and delved deep to produce some of the most authoritative writings on Messiaen and French music generally. Where previous accounts have sought to analyse Messiaen’s oeuvres with sparse accounts of his private life, Peter Hill and Nigel Simeone for the first time have been granted access to his private papers and diaries all made possible by the permission of the composer’s widow Yvonne Loriod-Messiaen. And by ‘private life’ I don’t mean what Messiaen had for breakfast or the colour of his socks but rather facts about his childhood, relationships with his mother, father, brother, aunts and working companions throughout his life, all contribute to a greater understanding of the character and temperament of the man. Hill and Simeone tread a very bold path from before Messiaen’s birth, through that special mother son relationship into his teens, the passionate but troubled first marriage to Claire Delbos and the birth of their son and the first meeting with Yvonne Loriod, (who went from Messiaen’s page turner to second wife and major interpreter of his piano music), and traces Messiaen’s spiritual and indeed physical journey up to his death. There are some very moving, often heart-wrenching letters from Messiaen to Claire during the war years and his time in Vichy and the book reveals the intense love, passion and yearning Messiaen had for Claire and his son Pascal always overlooked and by passed by in earlier biographies as Messiaen was fiercely guarded when it came to his private life. The other ‘special’ feature of this book is the publication of many photographs hitherto unseen but for the immediate family. Some of these early photographs at Petichet (Messiaen’s summer retreat near the Alps in south east France) are charged with a romantic enchantment showing father, mother and son like any other family's holiday snapshot such as the one with Messiaen simply sitting in a deck chair reading. Later in the book though it is interesting that Hill & Simeone chose to present photos of Claire and Yvonne on facing pages (pp. 110-111) where Claire’s image is one of forlorn almost vacant desperation and that of Yvonne young and radiant at the piano. One almost feels the stress and irrepressible emotions Messiaen was experiencing through the 40s and 50s a time of the most tortuous personal life but also a time that yielded a plethora of music starting with Visions de l’Amen through to the Catalogue d’Oiseaux. Apart from the archive photographs previously unseen I found Peter Hill’s own photographs most interesting for example the Messiaen family house at Nantes, the Grenoble shots and those of Fuligny. The diaries and papers highlight the initial thoughts and framework of many works and give a fascinating insight into how pieces such as Vingt Regards sur l'enfant Jésus, La Transfiguration de Notre-Seigneur Jésus-Christ and Livre du Saint Sacrement evolved and grew to their definitive proportions. There were moments in the book that had me laughing out loud especially when Loriod and Messiaen were departing for London and the taxi that dropped them at the Gare de Nord drove off with their suitcase in the boot which had both of them shouting after the taxi to no avail. Then when Jeanne Loriod suffered an electric shock from her Ondes Martenot when rain got in it at a rather doomed attempt at Turangalila Symphonie in the open air. I know one shouldn’t laugh but I gather she was unharmed - just alarmed! I also shed a tear when reading the accounts of Messiaen’s declining health and the excruciating pain he must have been in when completing his final works. This really is a case of a man suffering for his art to bring joy to others. And one mustn’t forget the suffering of Yvonne Loriod. Not only the mental suffering caused by the ill health and eventual death of her husband but her own life threatening illness in 1963 resulting in two blood transfusions and hysterectomy with the couple having to face the fact that they would never have children. The book highlights the punishing concert schedules Loriod and Messiaen undertook, taking them all over the world performing the most demanding programmes which must surely have had an adverse affect on their health. Having said this, the couple did always look forward to their summer retreat at Petichet where Messiaen would do most of his composing and at the same time unwind and get back to nature. Apart from the diaries and private papers, Hill & Simeone have drawn on many other sources and accounts from latter day researchers for example Stephen Broad, Jacques Tchamkerten, Jean Boivan as well as personal communications from Loriod and close friends such as George Benjamin and Roger Muraro. Those of us who have experienced Peter Hill and Nigel Simeone in talks or lectures will know just how engaging and communicative they are and this is reflected in the tone and pace of the writing throughout – totally captivating. I spotted just a couple of minor misnomers. One was photograph 166 which states: Messiaen and Gary Kettel when in fact it is Messiaen and James Holland. The other is note 10 pp185 - the first recording of Visions de l’Amen was recorded by Contrepoint (Granti neuf E. Ploix-Musique Disquaires, 48 Rue St. Placide, Paris) on 78s then transferred to LP by Dial in New York a couple of years later. My one thought was that perhaps the book ends all too suddenly. The final tribute by Boulez is most definitely apt but I felt I wanted to know a little more of Messiaen after his death. For example the decision to elect Naji Hakim as successor to Messiaen at Trinite, the work of Loriod-Messiaen completing the Traité, archiving Messiaen’s music and papers and so on – or maybe I was so enthralled I just wanted to read on and on!! Yale have produced a book of the highest quality and Hill and Simeone have achieved a work whose contents many of us thought Olivier Messiaen had taken to that great rainbow in the sky. Bravo Peter and Nigel! © Malcolm Ball Olivier Messiaen: A Bibliographical Catalogue of Messiaen's Works. By Nigel Simeone. (Musikbibliographische Arbeiten, 14.) Tutzing: Hans Schneider, 1998. [xix, 249 p. ISBN 3-7952-0947-1. DM 142.] The first thing that strikes the reader about this book is the obvious amount of work that has gone into it: painstaking research in the Bibliothèque Nationale, for example, as well as in "publishers' archives or hire libraries . . . and other public and private collections in France and England" (p. v). Yet there is some confusion from the start. On the spine, the title is First Editions of Messiaen; on the front cover, it is Olivier Messiaen: Catalogue of Works; and on the title page, it is Olivier Messiaen: A Bibliographical Catalogue of Messiaen's Works: First Editions and First Performances. Clearly, the publisher could not put the whole of the latter on the spine; on the other hand, a catalog and a bibliography are two different things. Nigel Simeone tells us in the introduction that this is not a "systematic work catalogue" (p. v), but he does give two purposes for his book: first, "to provide detailed bibliographical information about the first . . . editions of Messiaen's published works," and second, to provide "information about the dates and places of composition, the scoring, and the first performances of Messiaen's works" (ibid.). He achieves both of these objectives admirably. There are further problems with the bibliography Simeone provides on pages 231- 32. A complete list of books and articles, even limited to literature in English and French (as here), would seem an excellent idea, yet here we find only two pages of references. The author does explain that he has included only materials consulted for the present volume, so it is understandable that a large number of works had to be omitted. Yet it is hard to imagine why, for example, the work of Robert Sherlaw Johnson, one of the first important writers on Messiaen in English (along with David Drew), does not appear. Toward the end of the book are two appendixes. The first is titled "'Un musicien, un artist . . . un mystique.' Reviews in Le Courrier musical and Le Ménestrel, 1930-39." The materials cited here are especially interesting since they reflect public and critical opinion of Messiaen's early works during his ascendancy to international acclaim. Appendix 2 is a list of printing records of Messiaen's works by the publishers Durand & Cie and Alphonse Leduc. The main catalog is arranged under the headings "Published Works" (pp. 1-184), "Unpublished Works" (pp. 185-96), and "Shorter Writings" (pp. 197-202). The first section includes longer texts such as Vingt leçons d'harmonie (1939), the two-volume Technique de mon langage musical (1942), and the vast Traité de rythme, de couleur et d'ornithologie (1949-92). The list progresses chronologically, from Le banquet céleste of 1928 to Concert a quatre, unfinished by Messiaen at the time of his death in 1992. The information Simeone provides in the entries includes title, date of composition, scoring, dedication or superscription, and first performance; for first editions, he gives the publisher, edition, collation, plate number(s), date, wrappers, format, engraver, and printer. Under "Shorter Writings," Simeone lists the three conference booklets (Brussels, Notre Dame, and Kyoto) and a large number of Messiaen's reviews. Apart from the few misgivings noted above, this is an excellent research tool that belongs in academic music libraries and on the bookshelf of anyone having a keen interest in one of the twentieth century's greatest composers. David Morris University of Ulster Copyright © 2000 by the Music Library Association, Inc. All rights reserved. PHNSBook BkOisEx Book Revs For the End of Time. The Story of the Messiaen Quartet By Rebecca Rischin Published by Cornell University Press Ithaca and London Never before has there been such high profile attention focused on Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time , what with Bryan Davidson’s innovative new play War Music and Rebecca Rischin’s illuminating account of the events surrounding the creation, premiere and the quartet’s life after the premiere. Up until a few years ago it was Messiaen’s own accounts and testimonies surrounding the work that entered the history books. Rischin however exposes many myths and flaws in Messiaen’s recollections and, perhaps more importantly, the reasons for these ‘exaggerations’ of the facts (not least the 3 string cello myth!). Rischin presents with great fluidity and clarity a time line of facts backed up by original war records and data that has come to light since Messiaen’s death. For example the order in which the movements of the Quartet for the End of Time appeared and the location in which they were composed shed new light on a piece that is one of the 20th century’s great musical legends. It is well known that in the POW camp Stalag VIIIA in Gorlitz, Messiaen befriended a German officer who was sympathetic to his needs and supplied Messiaen with writing materials etc. necessary for composing the Quartet for the End of Time. Indeed it was the same officer who played such an important part in the lives of all 4 members of the quartet as again Rischin reveals. Curiously it was only a year before Messiaen died that he actually revealed the name of this officer. How the Quartet for the End of Time was performed at all in the surroundings of a Nazi POW camp is made even more remarkable by the fact that Henri Akoka, the clarinettist for whom the work was written, was Jewish. ​ Rebecca Rischin has created a work of great substance by securing interviews with all family members of each of the quartet’s performers – the Pasquiers (those of the famous Trio Pasquier) – the Akoka family – and even the elusive La Boulaire who after the war became an actor and assumed a new identity, and of course Yvonne Loriod-Messiaen and her archive materials left by Messiaen himself. Rischin explores in great detail each player’s personality, philosophical and political ideologies and how it affected their relationships throughout the time of their captivity. She draws on the not inconsiderable archive of Hannalore Laurewald which contain photos, documents and plans of Stalag VIIIA (many of which are reproduced in the book) and to my knowledge never before published. She also manages to track down prisoners who were in the audience at the time of the premiere of Quartet for the End of Time, some of whom recall the event with great passion and tearful recollection. ​ All the members of the quartet that premiered Quartet for the End of Time have now passed on so, as in Holocaust testimonies, it is left to their families, friends etc and to the foresight of organisations like the Shoah foundation in the case of the Holocaust and books such as this by Rebecca Rischin to illustrate the accurate background behind events that indeed have shaped 20th century history. Back to top BkRebRis

  • Olivier Messiaen - Birdsong

    Birdsong in Messiaen's Oiseaux exotiques compared with the ornithological recordings he transcribed. This webpage enables detailed comparison of five of Messiaen's birdsongs with the actual birdsongs he used as models. The spectrograms, the 78 rpm records from which he derived the North American birdsongs in Oiseaux exotiques, and Messiaen's aesethetic of imitation are discussed in Robert Fallon, "The Record of Realism in Messiaen's Bird Style," in OLIVIER MESSIAEN: Music, Art and Literature . ed. Christopher Dingle & Nigel Simeone (Ashgate, 2007). Prairie chicken [Tétras cupidon des prairies] Wood thrush [Grive des bois] Lazuli bunting [Pape indigo ou Ministre] Baltimore oriole [Troupiale de Baltimore] Cardinal [Cardinal rouge de Virginie] Click on the left play button to listen to the actual bird and the right play button to hear Messiaen's bird. a) Prairie chicken Download Prairie chicken as pdf 00:00 / 00:09 b) Wood thrush Download Wood thrush as pdf 00:00 / 00:06 c) Lazuli bunting Download Lazuli bunting as pdf 00:00 / 00:06 d) Baltimore oriole Download Baltimore oriole as pdf 00:00 / 00:06 e) Cardinal Download Cardinal as pdf 00:00 / 00:13 KEY • The spectograms are plotted with frequency (Hz) over time (sec.). • The numbers below the spectograms indicate the frequencies where the arrows point. • Arrows align the spectogram with the transcription; they do not indicate matching pitches. • The frequencies were determined with care for the signal’s audibility, a combination of duration and intensity. • The frequencies are accompanied by their corresponding letter names of musical pitches. • A “+” after the letter name indicates the frequency is microtonally higher than the indicated pitch: “D#+” means a sharp D#. • A “–” after the letter name indicates the frequency is microtonally lower than the indicated pitch: “G#–” means a flat G#. • The indicated frequencies depend on the turntable speed used in the digital transfer, which may not precisely duplicate the speed at which Messiaen heard the recordings. The preponderance of matched tones suggests the two speeds are very similar. Bird images by John James Audubon. Recorded excerpts from Olivier Messiaen's Oiseaux exotiques are taken from a live performance by the San Francisco Conservatory's New Music Ensemble, conducted by Nicole Paiement, with Jacqueline Chew as piano soloist. The author thanks the performers and the Conservatory for their kind permission to use the excerpts. ©Robert Fallon More examples of Messiaen's birds. Click to download pdfs (in French) Alouette des champs. pdf Fauvette à tête noire. pdf Grive musicienne pdf Merle noir. pdf Mésange charbonnière. pdf Pic épeiche. pdf Pinson des arbres. pdf Rossignol philomèle. pdf Rouge-gorge. pdf Troglodyte mignon. pdf

  • Jon Gillock | Olivier Messiaen

    The 'really' complete organ works by Messiaen. In 2014, Jon Gillock began releasing his recordings of Messiaen’s Complete Organ Works on the Raven label and the project is now finished with the addition of a recently discovered transcription entitled 'Vie pour Dieu des Ressuscités '. They have been recorded on the new organ by Pascal Quoirin (St. Didier, France) at The Church of the Ascension, NYC. He participated in the design of this French organ, which is ideal for Messiaen’s music. Although the acoustic in the church is excellent and warm, it is not terribly reverberant. This aspect provides an added dimension to this music because one can hear all the detail of the compositions, which are not hidden by an overly reverberant space. This acoustic is similar to that found in concert halls, where orchestras perform Messiaen’s music. These recordings show that this unusual body of music can function in more than one setting. On January 15, 1974, Jon Gillock gave the New York premiere of Olivier Messiaen’s Méditations sur le Mystère de la Sainte Trinité at The Church of the Ascension, NYC. That single performance launched him into a career as a concert artist almost over night, giving premieres of this fabulous work from coast to coast. The following year, he gave the first New York performance of Messiaen’s then Complete Works for Organ — the Livre du Saint Sacrement had not yet been written — in a series of five concerts. Soon afterwards, he met Messiaen who invited Gillock to visit him in Paris. In 1977, Gillock went to Paris to study with his Maître at the Paris Conservatory. In 1986, Messiaen presented Gillock with a copy of his manuscript for the new Livre du Saint Sacrement , authorizing him to give performances of this epic masterpiece before its publication. Again, Gillock gave the New York premiere, which was again followed by a transcontinental tour premiering this piece around the country to wide critical and public acclaim. He has given several other special New York performances of this work — in 1988, to celebrate Messiaen’s 80th birthday; in 1992, as a memorial tribute to Messiaen at the time of his death; and in 1996, for the opening concert of the Convention of the American Guild of Organists that celebrated their 100th anniversary. The work, Vie pour Dieu des Ressuscités was recently discovered (while the Messiaen collection was being catalogued at the Bibliothèque de France) within the manuscript of Les Corps glorieux on the back of the first movement (Subtililté des Corps glorieux ) and seems to have been considered by Messiaen for the second movement of that work. The work itself is a transcription for organ of the fourth movement from Fête des belles Eaux entitled L'Eau, a transcription of which became the fifth movement of Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps (Praise to the Eternity of Jesus ). Because Messiaen gave the organ transcription a characteristic subtitle from the scriptures: "Alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord; charity never faileth." - St. Paul, letter to the Romans 6:11 and I Corinthians 13:8, and its substantial 13min duration, must have been seriously considered at the time. Jon Gillock provides extensive notes in the CD booklet on this and all the works recorded along with photographs and organ details that are sumptuously presented in all six jewel cases (there are six releases three of which are double CDs for the price of one). Nine CDs in all from Raven Compact Discs here . ​ Jon Gollock gave all the New York premieres of every organ piece by Messiaen since 1974: 1974 NY Premiere of Méditations sur le Mystère de la Sainte Trinité 1975 First New York performance of Messiaen’s Complete Works for Organ 1987 NY Premiere of Livre du Saint Sacrement (from the manuscript) 1999 American and NY Premieres of three then-recently discovered pieces: Monodie Offrande au Saint Sacrement (from the manuscript) Prélude (from the manuscript) 2022 World premiere recording of Vie pour Dieu des Ressuscités (from the manuscript, unpublished)

  • Messiaen House in Fuligny | Olivier Messiaen

    Messiaen House in Fuligny © Malcolm Ball This is the 18th century house where Messiaen's aunts (Agnès and Marthe) lived and where he spent his summer vacations for many years from 1922 onward. Here he notated his first bird songs (later saying in his view the Aube region was the best location in France for larks) and composed, among others, Preludes for piano, Le Banquet Céleste , Le Banquet Eucharistique , Les Offrandes Oubliées , Le Tombeau Resplendissant and possibly Diptyque and Trois Mélodies as well as many more sketches that would find themselves in later works. Messiaen continued to visit his aunts in this house throughout his life. The current owner has decided to sell this house and the couple who wish to buy it intend to demolish it in view of the costs for its restoration. The Association LA QUALITE DE VIE reacted immediately, and is doing everything possible to have this "house of character" become an historical monument. The idea is to have this house bought by those who are interested in the world of BIRDS, in HERITAGE, in CONTEMPORARY MUSIC, in the ORGAN, in Olivier MESSIAEN... A FOUNDATION LE CHANT DES OISEAUX DE FULIGNY will make this place a concentration of Culture : "the grown-ups" and "the school children" will be able to learn and recognise the birds, their song, their life... One can imagine a specialised media library... and in a small auditorium one can listen to all the music and songs of the bird world... And maybe a care centre for injured birds and animals... © Thomas Bloch © Malcolm Ball Olivier's father, Pierre Messiaen (1883-1957) was born in Flanders - *one of Charles and Marie Messiaen's seven children (three brothers: Pierre, Léon and Paul; and four sisters: Marthe, Madeleine, Marie and Agnès). In 1900, the Messiaen family moved to Fuligny, in the Aube region, east of Troyes. Among the Messiaen children, one of the most artistically gifted was Léon, born 1884, a graduate of the École Nationale des Beaux-Arts; he was at the start of a promising career as a sculpture when killed in action in 1918. The Messiaen family tomb, in the churchyard of La Chaise near Fuligny, is surmounted by a striking sculpture after Léon Messiaen entitled L'Énergie fauchée ('Energy spent')*. Léon reworked the sculpture a copy of which can be seen close to the cathedral in Troyes that commemorates the one hundredth anniversary of the 1914-18 war. *Peter Hill & Nigel Simeone - MESSIAEN pp. 7-8 © Malcolm Ball © Malcolm Ball © Malcolm Ball Léon Messiaen Madeleine was the longest-lived of the seven children (b.1890) and married Paul Guéritte in 1912 and died in 1987. Here is Messiaen's own recollections of the house: 'My memories [of nature] go back to the age of fourteen or fifteen, chiefly to a period when I went and stayed in the Aube with aunts who owned a rather odd farm, with sculptures by one of my uncles [Léon], a flower bed, an orchard, some cows and hens. [...] To 'restore' my health, my brave aunts would send me out to tend a little herd of cows; it was really a very small herd ( there were only two or three cows) but even so I looked after them very badly, and one day they managed to escape and wrought havoc in a field of beetroot which they munched through in a few hours. I was told off by everyone in the village. The Aube countryside is very beautiful and very simple: the plain, its big fields surrounded by trees, magnificent dawns and sunsets, and a great many birds. It was there that I first began noting down birdsong'. Samuel 1967 pp.24-5; Samuel 1986, pp34-5. Peter Hill & Nigel Simeone - MESSIAEN pp.8 © Thomas Bloch © Thomas Bloch © Thomas Bloch © Thomas Bloch Watch video of the house and listen to the birds! Here

  • Writings | Olivier Messiaen

    Writings, Articles and Archive Material WritingsTop Jean-Rodolphe Kars ~ Wartime Letter ~ Nicholas Armfelt ~ Ruth Cole ~ Miriam Carpinetti ~ Jeffery Wilson ~ Thomas Lacôte ~ Lerie Dellosa ~ Cardinal Lustiger ~ Jennifer Bate ~ Robert Grenier ©Robert Grenier personal collection Robert Grenier (bass) rehearses with Messiaen and Yvonne Loriod Robert Grenier was understudy for the part of Frère Bernard in St.François d'Assise premier run in 1983. He made two appearances in place of Jean-Philippe Courtis on the 3rd and 18th December 1983 at the Palais Garnier. All the vocal soloists were coached by Messiaen himself and Robert recorded his session on cassette tape. He had all but forgotten about the 40 odd year old cassette until recently and was surprised that it still played for 16 mins before the sound disintegrates. Robert has very kindly shared this precious document with us. The quality is rather Lo-Fi but it gives us great insight into how Messiaen (and Loriod) worked with the soloists in preparation for performance. RGrenier/Messiaen 00:00 / 16:15 © Robert Grenier. Reproduction of audio is strictly forbidden without permission of the owner. Later in 2002 Robert produced an essay for Opera Quarterly entitled: Recollections on Singing Messiaen's Saint François d'Assise. Download the pdf below. RecollectionsStFranRG2002.pdf ©2002 Oxford University Press RGrenier Concert Programme of Trois Tala performed in Spain 22 February 1949 Père Jean-Rodolphe Kars maintained a close relationship with Messiaen and Yvonne Loriod and shares these documents from his personal archive. A Prayer composed by Olivier Messiaen Père Kars wrote the following about this rare and personal document: ''Some words of this prayer announce the poem of the third “petite liturgie”, and are very much influenced by some writings of St Thomas of Aquinas. This prayer is remarkable, with a real mystical ending which announce very precisely the last prayer of St Francis in the opera. It’s a testimony of how much Messiaen kept things in his memory and would use them in due time, sometimes decades later, after having matured them''. Prière inédite rédigée par Olivier Messiaen en septembre 1943, alors qu’il s’apprêtait à composer ses « Trois Petites Liturgies de la Présence Divine » (1943-1944). On reconnaît, sous une forme différente, beaucoup d’éléments du poème de la troisième « petite liturgie » (poème dont il est aussi l’auteur). Unpublished prayer written by Olivier Messiaen in September 1943, when he was preparing to compose his " Trois Petites Liturgies de la Présence Divine " (1943-1944). We recognize, in a different form, many elements of the poem of the third "little liturgy" (poem of which he is also the author). English translation here. OMPrayer.pdf Jean-Rodolphe Kars These are two extracts of Messiaen’s diary, which Yvonne sent to me many years ago. On the right part, dated 29-11-86, Messiaen mentions the event of my priestly ordination on that very day (see on the top). Of course he was not present (he was in Paris and the ordination took place in the little French town of Paray-le-Monial), but he did assure me that he would very much pray for me (“ de tout mon coeur”) on that occasion. And so he noted that in his diary. The left part dated 21-12-86, concerns the very first mass I celebrated in the église de la Sainte Trinité, three weeks after my ordination. Messiaen was at the organ. I did publicly pay homage to him, thanking him for the immense impact his works had on my spiritual journey. On the left part in the middle, one can read that I shall celebrate the 11h45 mass. And on the right part of the same date, nearly above, he did note that I “publicly thanked him”. You find that just under the indication “51e sem. 355:10”. And on the same side, but below, there is a mention of Jennifer Bate, probably in relation with the project of her playing the first Paris performance at the Trinité of the “Livre du Saint Sacrement” in May or June 1987. P. Jean-Rodolphe Kars Here is Père Kars description: These two letters were written to me by Messiaen in 1986, after I informed him about my conversion (which he didn’t know about up to that time) and about my future ordination, first as deacon (February 1986), then as priest (November 1986). In the first letter (January 1986), one can read his joy to hear about that; he also writes that “being priest is the most “great” thing on this earth”; and also a recommendation for me to care in my future ministry about the quality of the liturgy, giving preference to Gregorian Plain-Song (in fact, I never had any influence later in those matters). The second letter (August 1986) was written to me between the two ordinations. After interesting details about his activities during those months, (and also his expression of thanksgiving for the spiritual impact of his works in my life and in my vocation), the subject is primarily about a theological comment (very personal comment) I wrote about the Trinitarian dimension I discovered in the second half of his magnificent “Combat de la mort et de la vie” (Corps Glorieux IV). In this article I also wrote a paragraph about the theological dimensions of the sound of the organ. So Messiaen writes first about all this matter, and then he comes back to my priestly ordination, a few months later. A letter of thanks from Messiaen to Harry Halbreich for his book 'Messiaen' that remains one of the seminal and revealing tomes in print. Père Kars points out that interestingly the date on the letter is the same day and month as Messiaen's death 12 years later. A Wartime Letter An important wartime autograph letter signed by Olivier Messiaen ("Messiaen"), February 15, 1940, to his friend and musical supporter Virginie Schildge-Bianchini, thanking her for a care package, advising her on her musical pursuits, and shedding light on his own devotion to music even in the midst of a war. Translated from the French, in part: "Thank you for your very kind letter and magnificent package. It will all be appreciated: from the good jam to the Lu Petit-Beurres, by way of the cheese, wafers, gingerbread, [.] honey (my passion!), the good salted butter, the chocolate and the cognac. Many, many thanks again. I am very touched! It's a very good idea to learn Bach by heart. It is also very good to take harmony and counterpoint lessons with J. P. Hennebains: you won't find a wiser and more devoted teacher. and that will allow you to resume composition again more fruitfully and easily. I am so happy to see you cultivating music with such zeal. My wife and my little son are freezing in glacial Auvergne. For my part, I must forget our physical ailments and return gradually to my rainbow of modes, of rhythms, and of resonance, living two lives simultaneously: that of 'my brother the body' and 'that of the spirit." Written just four months before the composer's capture by German forces, and his two-year stay in a prisoner of war camp where he composed his Quartet for the End of Time, the letter demonstrates Messiaen's strength of purpose -- sustained, no doubt, by his strong religious faith -- in the worst of circumstances. Virginie Schildge-Bianchini (later Zinke-Bianchini) had been a regular supporter of Messiaen's work since the 1930's. After his return from the war, she took lessons from him in Paris and also hosted several concerts of his music at her house. Wartime Letter A postcard to boulez Nicholas Armfelt A letter of thanks Nicholas Armfelt kindly contributed this letter that he received from Olivier Messiaen thanking him for sending recordings of birdsongs indigenous to New Zealand. Nicholas met sound recordist Kenneth Bigwood while teaching in New Zealand in 1963 where they recorded the songs of the Bellbird, Grey Warbler and others, but most importantly the Tui that made a great impression on Messiaen who subsequently included its song in Couleurs de la Cité Céleste . More recentlty the Tui is featured in Un oiseau des arbres de Vie famously orchestrated by Christopher Dingle and premiered at the BBC Proms in 2015. Nicholas Armfelt 'Three Little Parcels'. Since his introduction to the music of Olivier Messiaen in the 1940s, Nicholas Armfelt has remained an ardent enthusiast of his music and through this has become a keen ornithologist in his own right. Over a period of time Nicholas made several recordings of birds native to New Zealand and sent three little parcels of such recordings to Messiaen to which the composer responded in the following three letters kindly submitted by Nicholas. Nicholas sent the first parcel to Messiaen in early 1963 and Messiaen's reply was as follows: 17 juin 1963 Cher Monsieur, J'ai bien reçu votre disque d'oiseaux de Nouvelle-Zélande. C'est merveilleux! J'ai apprécié particulièrement les chants extraordinaires de l'oiseau-Tui, de l'oiseau-cloche (bellbird), du Riroriro (grey warbler), du Kiwi, du Kéa, de l'ocydrome Weka, du Takahé (notornis) -etc, etc.. Ce cadeau me fait un immense plaisir. Merci de tout mon coeur! Avec une très grande reconnaissance. Olivier Messiaen. 17th June 1963 Dear sir, I have safely received the recording of the "Birds of New Zealand". It is marvellous! I particularly appreciated the exraordinary songs of the Tui, the Bellbird, the Riroriro (grey warbler), the Kiwi, the Kea, the wood-rail Weka, the Takahe (notornis) etc. etc. This present gives me immense pleasure. Thank you with all my heart! With very great gratitude. Olivier Messiaen Nicholas sent the second parcel in late 1976 and was delighted to receive the following reply: le 6 février 1977 Cher Monsieur, Je suis couvert de confusion à la pensée que vous avez attendu si longtemps ma réponse. J'etais absent pour tournées de concerts, et à mon retour, j'ai trouvé plusieurs centaines de lettres, et je n'ai pas encore pu répondre à tout. Un immense merci pour cette bande magnétique extraordinaire! Quelle variété, quelle beauté! J'ai déjà commencé une première notation de ce que vous m'avez envoyé. Effectivement c'est l'enregistrement (C) qui est le plus extaordinaire. L'Oiseau-Tui surtout est prodigieux, comme rythme, comme ligne mélodique, et comme variété de timbres. J'ai été absolument renversé par le KOKAKO (Blue-wattled Crow, Callaeas cinerea). Je ne connais pas cet oiseau. Est-il de la meme famille que les corbeaux fluteurs (Gymnorhina)? En tout cas, cet oiseau prodigieux fait ce que les flutistes et les clarinettistes ont découvert depuis peu, c'est-à-dire des double-sons! Si vous pouviez m'en donner une description, cela me rendrait grand service. Je connaissais déjà l'Oiseau-Tui, l'Oiseau-Cloche, et le Mohoua à tete jaune. Mais beacoup d'autres oiseaux que vous m'avez envoyés sont pour moi une révélation. Spécualement l'Oiseau-Tui que je connaissais mal, et le Kokako que je ne connaissais pas du tout. Avec encore tous mes remerciements, je vous prie de croire, cher Monsieur, à ma profonde reconnaissance. Olivier Messiaen. 6th February 1977 Dear sir, I am embarrassed by the thought that you have had to wait so long for my reply. I was away on concert tours, and on my return I found several hundred letters, and I haven't been able yet to reply to them all. A huge thank-you for this amazing tape! What variety! What beauty! I have already begun my first notations of what you have sent me. indeed it is section C of the tape which is the most extraordinary. The Tui especially is prodigious - for rhythm, melodic line, and variety of timbres. I was absolutely bowled over by the KOKAKO (Blue-wattled Crow). I don't this bird. Is it in the same family as the Australian bell-magpies? At any rate, this prodigious bird does what flautists and clarinetists have discovered only recently, namely double-sounds! If you could give me a description of it that would be of great service to me. I was already acquainted with the Tui, the Bellbird, and the Yellowhead; but many of the other birds you have sent are for me a revelation. Specially the Tui, which I didn't know well, and the Kokako, which I didn't know at all. With all my thanks. I beg you to believe, dear Sir, in my profound gratitude. Olivier Messiaen. Nicholas says of the third letter that 'it moved me the most, for the composer was very old and frail - and his hand writing is a delight!' 18 mars 1991 Cher Nicholas Armfelt, Merci de tout coeur pour votre cassette de chants d'oiseaux de Nouvelle-Zélande. Je l'ai déjà écoutée plusieurs fois, avec joie. Le Kokako est très original, avec ses sons lourés descendants, et la note grave enflée crescendo vers un suraigu grinçant. J'aime le glissando tremblé en cascade descendante, le bruit d'eau du Kea. L'Oiseau-Tui a des sons tantot flutés, tantot grinçants, absolument extraordinaires. J'ame encore l'Oiseau-cloche, le Notornis, le Riroriro, les sons étranges et primitifs du Kiwi du Nord a tete jaune, la trompe grave du Kakapo. Les cris des oiseaux de mer sont aussi tres interessants. Merci encore pour ce troisiéme envoi, qui m'a fait un immense plaisir. Croyez, je vous prie, a tous mes sentiments bien amicaux et tres reconnaissants. Olivier Messiaen. 18th March 1991 Dear Nicholas Armfelt Thank you with all my heart for your cassette of New Zealand birdsongs. I have listened to it several times, with joy. The Kokako is very original, with its sliding descending notes, and its deep note that swells in a crescendo up to a high shrill sound. I like the glissando trembling in a cascade, like cascading water, of the Kea. The Tui utters sounds that are sometimes flutelike, at other times grating, absolutely extraordinary. I also like the Bellbird, the Nototnis, the Riroriro, the strange and primitive calls of the North Island Kiwi, the cretic rhythms and cooings of the Yellowhead, the deep boom of the Kakapo. The cries of the seabirds are also very interesting. Thank you again for this third present, which has given me great pleasure. I assure you of my warm and grateful best wishes. Olivier Messiaen. It is thanks to Nicholas that Messiaen went on to transcribe and use these birdsongs in three of his works: Couleurs de la cité céleste (indeed the first few bars are the song of the Tui), Éclairs sur l'au-dela and Concert à quatre . 'Emotion in the Music of Messiaen' Messiaen scholar and enthusiast Nicholas Armfelt wrote this article in 1964 which was subsequently published in The Musical Times in November 1965. Messiaen’s music demands an extraordinary intensity of response; and each piece demands entire acceptance. It has the quality of a statement rather than an argument or question. It is a statement expressed emphatically and intensely. The critical listener is disturbed by this. He wants to question the validity of the statement; he regards music as an argument. But Messiaen’s music seems not to allow this: it demands all or nothing. Indeed it seems to demand all. That is why it has often provoked such violent reactions. Many listeners, while admitting the expression to be forceful, have found it hard to cope with a music so extreme in its emotive demands. One way of coping with the emotive demands is simply to ignore them. At one extreme there are some intellectual up-to-date people for whom Messiaen is significant only as the man behind Boulez and some other younger composers. Above all they admire the piano study, Mode de valeurs et d’intensités (1949) , and judge his other works by the extent to which they anticipate or fall away from that ideal. In it four series are used simultaneously: 36 pitches, 24 durations, 12 attacks, and 7 degrees of loudness and softness. These make a complex mode, the coherence of which is aurally obvious (e.g. The lower notes have the longer duration). This is rightly acknowledged as the first European work of total serialism (in which all elements are used serially). It lasts four minutes, and like all the works of the composer, was completely imagined aurally. But it led on to complex serial works by other composers in which the conjunction of the various elements was too complex to be imagined in detail beforehand. So Messiaen’s piece has historical importance in two related recent developments of music: total serialism and music of chance. But for me its significance is its beauty: the low notes like night, the notes above sparkling like fireworks. At the other extreme are some organists who, perceiving the technical brilliance, effectiveness, and workmanship of Messiaen as an organ composer, cull pieces from L’Ascension (1933) or La Nativité (1935) to show off their virtuosity in a recital. Fair enough I suppose. After all, it does draw attention to the fact that Messiaen is so effective. And it also draws attention to the traditional element in Messiaen’s pieces, their relationship to the great tradition of French organ music, the tradition of Franck, Widor, Dupré. Better to come to his music from the traditional past that from the fashionable future. But the trouble is that these recitals tend to obscure the originality and intense sincerity of the works by referring back to old familiar forms and to old, familiar, comfortable, worn-out emotions. So often one hears the fourth and final piece of L'ascension tripped off at twice its proper speed as if it were some pleasant little pastorale. In fact it is an intense, ecstatic piece, representing with characteristic literalness the prayer of Christ as he ascends to His Father. At a good performance the sympathetic listener will find himself almost entranced. The movement is very slow, the chords ascending with parallel harmonies. Indeed it is so slow that one can forget the ‘melody’ as such and become absorbed in each chord as a separate experience, tensing oneself in readiness for the next chord, the next step upward. The harmonies have a certain hardness to them, which should be brought out in the registration. Some listeners find the harmonies ‘soupy’ or ‘honeyed’. I think this is due to a failure to listen to the actual sounds. It is the tough element in the harmonies that causes the slow upward motion to be almost unbearable, till, at about two-thirds of the way through, the piece achieves its climax. Heaven, one feels is in sight. Thereafter the ascension continues, but with less strain – though even the long final chord is inconclusive, yearning to go higher. It is only when the piece is over that one realises one has experienced the beautifully phrased melody and form of the piece. Both these types of approach, as I have described them, the trendspotting-historical and the extrovert-workaday, fail to take proper account of the emotive demands of the music. The trouble is not so much that these people fail to respond fully to the particular pieces they admire; but more that they fail to admire Messiaen’s boldest pieces. Even the most ardent admirers of Messiaen find their powers of acceptance severely strained by some works. There are the more obvious failures, such as parts of the early Diptyque for organ and the Fête des belles eaux (1937) for six ondes Martenots. (It is fortunate that the beautiful sections of each are preserved as the ‘louange’ movements of Quatour pour la fin du temps (1941) . But then there are parts of other works which seem terrible bathos when the listener is all critical and emotionally below par, but which at other times seem to come off. David Drew , in his absorbing ‘Messiaen – a provisional study’ in The Score (Dec 1954. Sept and Dec 1955) , has cited L’Êchange from Vingt regards sur l’enfant Jésus (1944) as an example of an obvious failure. On paper it does indeed look mechanical, and the long pause towards the end can seem ridiculous. But personally, when I am in a sympathetic mood, I find the sustained crescendo and the amount of variation sufficient to hold my interest – especially in the context of the whole cycle. More frequent, though, than such dubious cases as L’Êchange are the passages that do come off, but are wrongly accounted failures by unsympathetic listeners – such daring effects as the notes of the chiffchaff at the climax of the Le Loriot and the 18-part birdsong polyphony for solo strings in the Epode section of Chronochromie (1960) . Contrary to some critics’ opinion, Messiaen’s peculiar excellence manifests itself in the form of his works. He uses a closed form, conceived rhythmically as the relationship of the parts to the whole. The material is often disparate and asymmetrical, involving unexpected phrase-lengths and lengthened or shortened note-values. More and more he uses the ‘catalogue principle’, where unrelated material is juxtaposed or superimposed. The success depends on taste and dramatic sense, above all on proportion, with effective contrasts and unexpected correlations. His music is proportioned by a literalness and truth to nature. The piece from L’Ascension was precisely symbolic in form. So are many other of his religious pieces. Take, for example the final movement of Les Corps Glorieux (1939) , where the thrice-three form symbolises the Holy Trinity, the three Persons registered so far apart yet integrated into the whole. Sometimes he uses the palindromic form of the non-retrograde rhythm, with its constant central value, to suggest the Star or the Cross. At other times he paraphrases plainsong for its traditional associations. The love-music is also unusually literal. One cannot naively distinguish it from his religious music, since he views life as a whole. In Amen du désir (Visions de l’Amen 1943) he chooses a mode of limited transposition for the charm of its impossibilities – it works up to a frenzy, but the desire remains as desire since the mode cannot rest on any modulation. True, the frenzy subsides into the harmonies of the more ‘celestial’ theme. But for the real resolution and sense of fulfilment one has to wait for the final piece of the cycle, Amen de la consommation. In the third of the Cinq Rechants (1949) the sexual act is presented with a literalness that equals Lady Chatterley’s Lover. It is all there: the male and female elements, the varying moods, the working up to a climax, the primitive universal shout at the moment of climax. Time seeming to halt at the moment of Love. One is reminded of certain Polynesian action-songs where the women sing in languorous harmony while the men shout and dance with urgent primitive gestures. This Rechant is extraordinarily compressed, its length corresponding to the act it represents. The earlier Turangalila Symphonie (1946-48) presents some of the same emotions in grander, more extended form. The fifth movement, for example, Joie du sang des étoiles, presents what takes only a few instants in the Rechant – frenzied joy, joy of the blood, joy of the blood universalised and linked with Death, joy of the blood of the stars. Messiaen uses big general words such as ‘joy’ to describe emotion. But in the music the emotions are more precise and complex. Each theme, as placed in context, has a precise emotional force. This can be realised in the music based on birdsong, notably Catalogue d’oiseaux (1958) . Each song is associated for Messiaen with a particular place and time, and consequently with a dramatic emotion. He recollects them in tranquillity, moulds them into musical form, always tending to organize and compress, and allows the sequence of events and birdsongs to guide the form of the compositions. The material may or may not be musically related, but dramatically it represents a true sequence of the composer’s emotions. Messiaen says he ‘takes his lessons from nature’. He trusts nature and the coherence of its larger rhythms. As for the more detailed rhythms, the birdsongs have inspired Messiaen to compose for piano a work unsurpassed in meaningful variety of rhythms, melodic contours, and sonorities. The most obvious of the larger rhythms determining the form of his pieces is the combination of symmetrical and asymmetrical elements in the passage of each day. An illustration of this is La Rousserolle effarvatte where various events of the first half are repeated irregularly in reverse order in the second half. Yet how irregular it is, and how complex and satisfying the form! This basic rhythm is also a clue to the overall form of some of the larger cycles of Messiaen’s middle period – for example, Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant Jesus . If in this article I emphasize the serene and joyful emotions in the music, it is because I feel that optimism predominates. I must mention, though, that this optimism would be comparatively meaningless were it not for the strong contrasting presence of disturbing emotions. Messiaen’s life has often been hard. The wonder is that his faith in life and human nature has so triumphantly survived. These disturbing emotions are as deep as anything in his music and are never cancelled out by the optimism: they remain as an integral part of the complex total vision. One thinks of the Abyss music in the third movement of Quatour pour la fin du temps and Livre d’Orgue , and of the frightening presence of death in certain of the Cinq Rechants . One of the most frightening effects is obtained in the mysterious death-cries and night-music of La Chouette Hulotte (The Tawny Owl) in Catalogue d’Oiseaux. One of the most striking features of some of Messiaen’s music is that it makes one conscious that everything in it is within the context of something bigger. There is the sound behind the sound, the longer duration behind the shorter one, the slower rhythm behind the quicker one. And behind all movement there is an awareness of stillness, behind all sound an awareness of silence, and behind all measured time an awareness of eternity. The silence is not mere silence. It is composed of various colours. The composer of Chronochromie (1960) and Couleurs de la Cité Céleste (1963) sees music in terms of colour and visa versa. At the end of the piano piece Je dors mais mon Coeur veille the sounds are progressively converted into silence. One knows exactly what the ‘missing’ sounds are. In Regard du silence special sonorities, some of them quite violent, are used to suggest the potential sounds that are within all silence. Some people dislike the static quality of a music that hearkens to the End of Time. They wish that it could be lighter, more critical, less absolute. It is true that many techniques are used to break down one’s sense of the temporal, among them extremely slow tempos, pedal-rhythms or ostinati, the disruptive effect of irregular note-values, and the combination of modes of limited transposition and non-retrograde rhythms. But to call the music plainly static seems to me altogether too simplified an interpretation. The characteristic effect of Messiaen’s music is to induce in the listener a trance-like state of heightened response to every instant, a state where he experiences simultaneously several different rates of time-flow. This is sometimes achieved, of course, by superimposing several rhythms. More amazingly, it is also often achieved by juxtaposition of contrasting rhythms, where one’s sense of the first rhythm continues to be effective long after it has been succeeded by another. Paradoxically, the result of all this is to make the listener feel outside time, so that all the movement seems but a complex decoration of an eternal stillness behind all things. Messiaen, humble before the vast diversity of Nature, has embraced this diversity in all its rhythms and colours to express his Faith in its Creator. Whether or not we share his Faith, we can welcome the richness and sincerity of its expression. © Nicholas Armfelt A letter of encouragement Ruth Cole This a short letter written by Olivier Messiaen in 1947 to Ruth Ellen Cole, (pictured at the time) kindly contributed by her daughter Sue Ellen (Matthews) Fealko. Ruth Cole Matthews (maiden name, Ruth Ellen Cole) was the first of her family to go to college, graduating from the University of Connecticut with a Bachelor of Arts in 1946. She was then accepted into the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, where she majored in music theory. She completed her Master of Arts in 1949, and her thesis was titled "An Analysis of Three Piano Preludes of Olivier Messiaen ." Sibley Music Library at Eastman has a copy of it (under Ruth C. Matthews). Ruth went on to live a life filled with music. For years, she taught piano, organ, and music theory at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan. She performed as a pianist in countless concerts and recitals, and she also was a church organist for over fifty years. Her true love really was organ music and she even went on several tours to see famous organs of Europe. Ruth died last October aged 89. Among her things, Sue Ellen's sister was surprised to find this letter from Olivier Messiaen written to her while she was at Eastman. Evidently she wrote to him first with questions concerning her thesis. His reply is just a simple, short letter, but it certainly shows what a kind and considerate man he was that he would take the time to write to a young American music student. My sincere thanks go to Sue Ellen (Matthews) Fealko for sharing this. Miriam Carpinetti Universidade Estadual de Campinas, INSTITUTO DE ARTES, Department Member Advisors:Denise Hortência Lopes Garcia PAPERS - ARTIGOS 15 Considerações sobre materiais compositivos utilizados em Méditations sur le mystère de la Sainte Trinité de Olivier Messiaen see details and pdf An article for our Norwegian readers! "Olivier Messiaen. – music, time, and eternity ." Thanks to Jon Mostad Miriam Carpinetti From Bloomsbury to Paris British Musician and composer Jeffery Wilson reminisces with Malcolm Ball on his time spent with Olivier Messiaen at the Paris Conservatoire. My first encounter with Jeffery Wilson was on a hot summer’s day in central London at a rather ‘tired’ meeting of fellow music examiners having to moderate several graded music exams on video for standardisation purposes. It was near the end of the day after discussing a particularly poor performance by a grade 4 violin that the chief examiner asked if we should watch this video again at which point Jeffery commented that he would rather have his eyes pierced with hot needles than to be subjected to a further hearing! I soon discovered that Jeffery’s spontaneous wit and dry humour was well known and a source of often needed light relief at such occasions. Our path’s had crossed briefly at other meetings and events but it wasn’t until the examiner’s conference in 2009 where Jeffery was awarded the much coveted service award when I discovered that he had studied with Olivier Messiaen. Having got to know Jeffery more over time I was particularly keen to meet up and discuss not only his time with Messiaen but also the fact that he was a like minded musician having an apprenticeship in Jazz and going on to more classical study. Not quite as most Messiaen scholars the more traditional musically established Conservatoire and University route. He revealed that, like myself during college days of the 70’s and 80’s, it didn’t seem right to be attracted to the music of Messiaen (and other contemporary ‘serious’ composers) while at the same time enjoy listening (and in our case) performing charts by Charlie Parker, Ellington, Basie etc. As far as I was concerned I never mentioned my ‘altered state’ as a jazz musician (and particularly a drummer) when speaking with Messiaen scholars and aficionados at college. A large broom came in handy to sweep such things under the proverbial carpet! Times have of course changed and views nowadays are not nearly as pedantic or ostentatiously learned as they were back then. It is well known that Messiaen abhorred jazz for a variety of reasons but it is encouraging that this did not deter Jeffery and that other jazz luminary Quincy Jones from making the trip to Paris. Jeffery Wilson studied composition with John Lambert and Herbert Howells, and later with Aladar Majorossy, Gordon Jacob and Olivier Messiaen, and while at the Royal College of Music he also studied clarinet, saxophone, piano and percussion. It was while studying with John Lambert at the Royal College of Music that Jeffery was encouraged to attend a concert at the Bloomsbury theatre, London in 1979 where Messiaen was to be present. John Lambert himself could be thought of as a ‘British Messiaen’. He had studied with Nadia Boulanger in Paris and held a composition class at the RCM for over 20 years beginning in 1970 where a plethora of British composers as diverse as Javier Alvarez, Simon Bainbridge, Gary Carpenter, David Fanshawe, Oliver Knussen, Jonathan Lloyd, Carlos Miranda, Barrington Pheloung, Mark-Anthony Turnage and of course Jeffery Wilson passed through his class. The diversity of these composers was reflected in those that attended Messiaen’s classes in Paris. Under the auspices of John Lambert Jeffery was introduced to Messiaen at the Bloomsbury and after asking Messiaen twice if he could study with him, twice Messiaen said ‘non’. However, after some persistence on Jeffery’s part, Messiaen finally said yes – he may visit him. Indeed Jeffery was to make two visits to Paris first in 1979/80 and again in1983. The ‘back door’ element for Jeffery was as Saxophonist and after some frantic swatting up of the solfege system, to pass the entrance exam, Jeffery was enrolled as a saxophonist and upon invitation attended the so called harmony and analysis classes of Messiaen. Commenting on the impression that Messiaen made, Jeffery says, “one of the most underestimated elements of Messiaen’s personality is breadth of understanding in a broad sense. For example his knowledge of German music. He often commented on the music of Hindemith and quartal harmony (which – by the way is very much a modern jazz harmonic language) citing and playing examples. But by far the deepest impression that Messiaen made was a religious one”. He says meeting Messiaen was “truly a personal and deep religious experience because he knew so much; understanding Aramaic and Hebrew for example and sharing the narrative of the entry into the Temple – the generous translation of that from the original text: ‘my stomach bile turns over at the very thought of you’ was what Jesus said not ‘woe unto you’ (King James) – that sort of thing matters to me enormously”. Jeffery was often moved by Messiaen’s “incredible textual skill”- “because he is able to look at Greek mythology and say what he says about that and yet paraphrase it in terms of Roman Catholicism – a sort of intellectual inclusivity” Messiaen had a great regard for the music of Roussel and indeed in the 1930’s said that Roussel’s was the finest example of French music at that time. Jeffery goes on to say that “Messiaen analyzed Roussel’s Pan for flute and he spoke of the myth in the same breadth as it were, as the assimilation of colour, light and God…. It was part of his speech”. Perhaps the highlight on his first visit its conclusion - Messiaen’s comments on Jeffery’s composition Three English Songs. The middle song is set to words by Shakespeare and after dismissing some attendants in the church at La Trinité Messiaen proceeded to improvise on the opening theme of the song and as he was doing so, Jeffery “could hear his improvisational devices working and you could hear him ‘smile’ as the improvisation progressed”. Curiously enough or perhaps typically, Messiaen finished the improvisation, locked the organ loft and left by the rear door and Jeffery never saw him again until his second visit in 1983. From 1983 Messiaen was in a state of considerable exhaustion after the composition of Saint-François d’Assise but after Jeffery Wilson’s second visit to Messiaen he came away with that valuable ‘knowledge base’ that students today are able to tap into and access which allows them to engage, research, question and deal with the art-form that is so rich in the oeuvre of Messiaen. Unlike many composers for example, “Scriabin, where once you can play, say, one of the Sonatas you’ve got a hook, so to speak, on to the language -base of the composer and you use this as a tool for understanding much of his music. Although this may be true of Messiaen to some extent where one can perceive a language base, he reveals more. Not in his mathematics so much as his words. So his rhythms that are derived less from symbiotic relationships with mathematics as the deep relationship with Holy texts, and that for me, is the heart and soul of the rhythmical ambient nature of his music. I hear performances (for example in Vingt Regards) that calculate the compositional devices rather than more subtle rhythmic interest. I believe that performers would benefit from this more intimate approach and perhaps gain more of the vision”. Jeffery got to know the church officials at La Trinité much better than he did any musician at the classes - a testimony to the religious impact made from meeting Messiaen. We spoke as two Englishmen often bewildered at the mentality of the French conservatoire hierarchy. For example the way Messiaen was treated on his last day at the establishment where nothing was said or celebrated after such long service at the conservatoire seems unthinkable to us. To all intents and purposes it was just another day. Jeffery Wilson sums it up superbly by saying that; “The light he shone was far greater than the shadows cast by other people”. No amount of thanks is ever enough to Jeffery for sharing his very personal thoughts about his time with Olivier Messiaen. ©Malcolm Ball. May 2009 Jeffery Wilson Reviving Messiaen's improvisations: An encounter with Thomas Lacôte around the Cavaillé-Coll organ of the Church of the Trinity,Paris. Rarely recorded, the improvisations of Messiaen constitute the least known part of the creative activity of the French composer and pedagogue, also titular organist at the Church of the Trinity from 1931 to his death. Based on improvisation notes recently deposited at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Thomas Lacôte pays tribute to his illustrious predecessor on the Cavaillé-Coll organ on April 23, in an approach that combines research, experimentation and musical virtuosity. Meeting around the mythical instrument and figure of the French musical heritage. What is the place of improvisation in Messiaen's creative approach? The organist training that Messiaen received was essentially focused on improvisation, and his duties in the Trinity led him to improvise regularly throughout the course of his life, but also, rarely, in concert. Messiaen claimed that several of his organ works were directly related to his improvisations: the Messe de la Pentecote, the Meditations sur le Mystere de la Saint Trinite, for example. However, it seems to me quite likely that his most famous works, such as the Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant Jesus or the Turangalila-Symphonie, could also have been marked by this practice. The main challenge seems to be to understand how Messiaen was able to have a very organized theory of composition interact with his intimate, intuitive, keyboard and creative relationship "in the moment". His earliest improvisations recorded today and accessible, date from the late 1960s; For the preceding decades, we were reduced to conjectures. That is why I wanted to advance research on these issues. Can you describe the preparatory notes for the improvisation of Messiaen kept at the BnF? What were you able to achieve with a view to a "replenishment"? The personal archives of Olivier Messiaen and his wife, deposited recently at the BnF, constitute an immense mine, one of the most extraordinary testimonies on artistic creation in the last century. During the very first stages of identification and ranking in which I participated, I stopped on a few very old handwritten manuscripts, dating from the years 1940-1950: these were lists of "registrations" for verses (That is to say, brief improvisations between the sung parts) during the Sunday afternoon vespers, about thirty in total. Messiaen notes very precisely the registration (organ sounds) to be used, associated with a very brief reminder corresponding to musical ideas: « chant suraigu », « bouger un doigt puis l’autre à chaque main », « trois cors dans le medium en louré », etc. To truly "speak" this document, the only solution is to "put it into action" on its place of origin, the organ of the Trinity: to pull the stops requested by Messiaen, to be guided by its brief indications, and thus make it possible to hear a buried musical idea that this single instrument allows to "decode", with obviously a very good knowledge of its techniques of composition at that time. It is as much research as creation, reconstruction or invention, because the blanks left are enormous, but it is the only way to make this document anything but a piece of paper ... What are the peculiarities of the Cavaillé-Coll church of the Trinity? How did they influence the technique of writing the Messe de la Pentecote, a work specifically composed from the sounds of this instrument? Before Messiaen, the way of associating organ tones (what is called registration) is more a matter of convention than of invention. He reverses this fact: for him, to compose a play, it is, most often, to invent a registration or several registrations unpublished. Of course, this can only be done during experiments on the instrument itself, again by a special relation to improvisation which my research has enabled me to clarify and which has changed my way of interpreting this work. The incredible quality of each set of this organ of the Trinity leads him to work not in large masses but essentially in "pure colours". A stop, two stops only to create mixtures and crossings unpublished, sometimes even a single note! It is thus that he represents in his Mass the horrible "beast of the Apocalypse": a peculiar pipe, with a terrifying sonority, happily preserved as such up to us. Not one visitor to the organ of the Trinity who does not want to hear this sound become almost mythical! Besides the important musical corpus, what is the legacy of Messiaen in aesthetic terms, of roads of research? Is it still a model for the young generation of composers? It seems to me that for the young composers of today, Messiaen is an ancestor already very distant. But, paradoxically, his very voluminous Treatise in 7 volumes appeared gradually after his death is still a recent work and relatively unread. It is this paradox that, together with my colleagues Yves Balmer and Christopher Brent Murray, we have sought to address, and have been working since 2010 on an in-depth re-examination of his compositional techniques. The results of this research, which will appear in the form of a book at Editions Symétrie in October 2017, seem to me to go beyond a work of history or musical analysis. By showing how Messiaen really collects musical materials in all the music he loves to transform and build his own, I believe that we can bring (thanks to him) some elements of reflection at a time tormented by the conflict between inheritance, system and creation. Like Messiaen, you are organist, composer, improviser but also professor of analysis at the Conservatoire de Paris and musicologist. Do you claim this complementarity in your musical approach as a form of engagement? I must especially say that I do not imagine doing otherwise! From then on, I had to think about what seemed to me to be an obvious fact, and to realize that it was not for everyone. Today, it is important for me to defend these necessary conjunctions, to understand why the gaps have widened between these practices, and to build musical projects impossible to classify! It is not a matter of returning to the former "master of music" but rather of the conviction that to think and create through categories is a permanent necessity for musical invention to remain alive. Nicolas Schotter, 11 April 2017 Thomas Lacôte at the organ of La Trinité. Thomas Lacôte Messiaen's Musical Language: Technique and Theological Symbolism in Les Corps Glorieux, "Combat de la mort et de la vie" Lerie Dellosa would like to contribute a copy of her DMA dissertation (158 pp.) entitled: Messiaen's Musical Language: Technique and Theological Symbolism in Les Corps Glorieux, "Combat de la mort et de la vie." It was her research for her DMA in organ performance degree from the University of North Texas in 2015; it focuses on Messiaen's melodic and harmonic techniques, which are less studied than his rhythms. Download full pdf document here . Lerie Dellosa The remarkable talk of the late Cardinal Lustiger, (former Archbishop of Paris), given in Notre Dame de Paris, for the Paul VI Prize received by Messiaen in 1989 and other texts of Lustiger. LE CARDINAL LUSTIGER ET OLIVIER MESSIAEN ​ (Trois Documents Précieux) I- REMISE DU PRIX PAUL VI A OLIVIER MESSIAEN Allocution du Cardinal Jean-Marie LUSTIGER NOTRE-DAME DE PARIS, MARDI 28 MARS 1989 Maître, En vous décernant son grand prix, l'Institut Paul VI rend hommage à votre œuvre. Elle a ce mérite de toucher une âme religieuse d'aujourd'hui avec peut-être plus de force encore que les œuvres du passé : précisément parce qu'elle est à la fois religieuse et d'aujourd'hui. Plus que religieuse, chrétienne. Ce faisant, elle touche tout homme, chrétien ou non. Comment comprendre ce paradoxe ? Paul VI avait clairement formulé le fondement dans la foi de cette intime corrélation de l'humanisme et du christianisme : « Est-ce la tâche de l'Eglise de travailler à l'extension de la culture ? A cette question continue le Pape, on ne peut répondre qu'affirmative­ment. II y a là une sorte d'œcuménisme de la culture et l'Eglise en a ouvert les portes toutes grandes... Tout ce qui est humain, tout ce que l'homme divulgue, imprime et diffuse, l'Eglise l'accueille. Cela témoigne combien elle est mère, combien son âme est universelle. Rien ne lui semble étranger, rien ne peut lui être indifférent, ses yeux sont ouverts sur tous les phénomènes humains... Que tout se transforme en hymne, en louange de Dieu - même si cette louange est d'abord confuse et inconsciente -, en reconnaissance au Verbe qui fait pleuvoir sur les choses humaines son intelligence et sa cognoscibilité ». Master, By awarding you its grand prize, the Paul VI Institute pays tribute to your work. It has the merit of touching a religious soul of today with perhaps even more force than the works of the past: precisely because it is both religious and of today. More than religious, Christian. In doing so, it affects every man, Christian or not. How to understand this paradox? Paul VI had clearly formulated the foundation in faith of this intimate correlation between humanism and Christianity: “Is it the task of the Church to work for the extension of culture? To this question the Pope continues, we can only answer in the affirmative. There is here a kind of ecumenism of culture and the Church has opened its doors wide ... Everything that is human, everything that man discloses, prints and disseminates, the Church welcomes. . It testifies how much she is a mother, how universal her soul is. Nothing seems foreign to him, nothing can be indifferent to him, his eyes are open to all human phenomena ... May everything turn into a hymn, into praise of God - even if this praise is at first confused and unconscious -, in gratitude to the Word which makes rain on human things its intelligence and its cognoscibility ”. Et, en 1967, dans Populorum Progressio (§ 42), reprenant l'expression de Maritain d'un « humanisme plénier qu'il faut promouvoir », Paul VI écrivait : « Qu'est-ce à dire sinon le développement intégral de tout l'homme et de tous les hommes ? Un humanisme clos, fermé aux valeurs de l'esprit et à Dieu qui en est la source, pourrait apparemment triompher. Certes, l'homme peut organiser la terre sans Dieu, mais - et le pape Paul VI cite ici le Père de Lubac - ‘sans Dieu il ne peut en fin de compte que l'organiser contre l'homme. L'humanisme exclusif est un humanisme inhumain’ ». II n'est donc d'huma­nisme vrai qu'ouvert à l'Absolu, dans la reconnaissance d'une vocation, qui donne l'idée vraie de la vie humaine. Loin d'être la norme dernière des valeurs, l'homme ne se réalise lui-même qu'en se dépassant. Selon le mot si juste de Pascal : « L'homme passe infiniment l'homme ». A mon tour, je dois remercier l'Institut Paul VI de vous avoir conféré ce prix international. Jamais, en effet, je n'avais imaginé qu'il me serait accordé de vous dire, en cette cathé­drale Notre-Dame de Paris, ma fervente admiration et ma reconnaissante amitié. Que ces derniers mots ne vous surprennent pas. And, in 1967, in Populorum Progressio (§ 42), taking up Maritain's expression of a “plenary humanism that must be promoted”, Paul VI wrote: “What does that mean if not the integral development of everything? man and all men? A closed humanism, closed to the values ​​of the spirit and to God who is their source, could apparently triumph. Of course, man can organize the earth without God, but - and Pope Paul VI quotes Father de Lubac here - ‘without God he can ultimately only organize it against man. Exclusive humanism is inhuman humanism ". There is therefore no true humanism except open to the Absolute, in the recognition of a vocation, which gives the true idea of ​​human life. Far from being the ultimate standard of values, man only realizes himself by surpassing himself. According to Pascal's apt word: "Man infinitely passes man". In my turn, I must thank the Paul VI Institute for conferring this international prize on you. In fact, I never imagined that I would be allowed to tell you, in this Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral, my fervent admiration and my grateful friendship. Don't let these last words surprise you. Dans cette assistance, ce soir, sont présents quelques-uns des musiciens - vos cadets - avec qui j'ai souvent discuté et « célébré »; c'est le mot qu'il faut employer puisque c'est la liturgie qui nous réunissait, eux à leur tribune d'orgues et moi à l'autel. Ils savent quelle joie et quelle communion spirituelle nous étaient données lorsque l'une de vos œuvres retentissait dans la célébration liturgique. In this audience this evening are present some of the musicians - your cadets - with whom I have often discussed and "celebrated"; this is the word that must be used since it is the liturgy that brought us together, them to their organ gallery and me to the altar. They know what joy and what spiritual communion we were given when one of your works resounded in the liturgical celebration. Pourquoi une œuvre musicale comme la vôtre, Maître, aussi originale et novatrice, savante et, pour certains, provocante, est-elle accueillie et aimée d'un si grand nombre de nos contemporains ? Why is a musical work like yours, Master, so original and innovative, scholarly and, for some, provocative, received and loved by so many of our contemporaries? On se figure assez naïvement, du moins dans la jeunesse, que l'expérience esthétique est essentiellement la projection de la subjectivité poussée à son plus haut point, et, finalement, le refus de toute autre contrainte que celle d'obéir au jaillissement obscur du cœur de l'homme. We imagine fairly naively, at least in youth, that the aesthetic experience is essentially the projection of subjectivity pushed to its highest point, and, finally, the refusal of any constraint other than that of obeying the obscure outpouring of the human heart. Depuis au moins un siècle, ce subjectivisme que le romantisme pensait inspiré, a fait porter tout son effort contre l'académisme. Je nomme ainsi les contraintes d'un apprentissage répétitif des formes et des règles dont les fruits, souvent élégants et raffinés, offrent au public la sécurité et la joliesse du déjà connu, au lieu de la grandeur toujours déconcertante du Beau et de son inépuisable nouveauté. Or, ne faisiez-vous pas remarquer que cette œuvre des années 30 que nous venons d'entendre paraissait peut-être aujourd'hui classique ? Et, nous le savons bien, tout au long de ces années de création où vous avez accumulé des œuvres si singulières et novatrices, votre musique, bien que sonnant moderne et déconcertante pour l'académisme de certains est apparue, dès le départ, comme entrant dans le classicisme. Qu'est-ce à dire ? For at least a century, this subjectivism that romanticism thought inspired, has focused all its efforts against academicism. I thus name the constraints of a repetitive learning of forms and rules whose fruits, often elegant and refined, offer the public the security and the prettiness of the already known, instead of the always disconcerting grandeur of Beauty and its inexhaustible novelty. . However, did you not point out that this work of the 1930s that we have just heard perhaps seems classic today? And, we know it well, throughout these years of creation in which you have accumulated such singular and innovative works, your music, although sounding modern and disconcerting for the academicism of some, appeared, from the start, as entering. in classicism. What to say? D'abord, contrairement à ce qu'imagine l'illusion subjective, l'art véritable sait se donner des règles et y obéir. Car l'art est une langue; même lorsque - comme souvent aujourd'hui - chacun doit se créer son vocabulaire et sa grammaire. La vraie question esthétique de notre temps, après les ruptures opérées depuis plus d'un siècle, est d'éprouver si la langue que se crée chaque artiste, n'est qu'un cri solitaire, si elle ne fait qu'expri­mer la déconcertante énigme de chacun, enfermé en lui-même, ou bien si elle permet le langage entre les humains, si adaptée, elle est entendue par le peuple qu'elle entraîne au-delà de lui-même. Cette épreuve fait comprendre comment le créateur dans le domaine esthétique rejoint l'expérience du prophète - le vrai et le faux - et la reconnaissance sociale de l'art a pour paradigme le miracle des langues de la Pentecôte. L'écriture musicale exige un travail d'élaboration que certains imaginent vainement inutile et contraire à l'inspiration spontanée et irrépressible. En réalité, le compositeur, comme tout créateur, doit se consacrer à un travail savant, pénible, réfléchi - ô combien ! - qui articule l'indicible pour en faire un discours dont la cohérence est à rechercher non dans sa seule rigueur, mais aussi dans sa beauté et son intuition. First, contrary to what the subjective illusion imagines, real art knows how to give itself rules and obey them. Because art is a language; even when - as is often the case today - everyone has to create their own vocabulary and grammar. The real aesthetic question of our time, after the ruptures operated for more than a century, is to test whether the language that each artist creates for himself is only a solitary cry, if it only expresses the disconcerting enigma of each, locked in himself, or if it allows language between humans, if adapted, it is understood by the people that it leads beyond itself. This test makes us understand how the creator in the aesthetic domain joins the experience of the prophet - the true and the false - and the social recognition of art has as a paradigm the miracle of the tongues of Pentecost. Musical writing requires a work of elaboration that some people vainly imagine useless and contrary to spontaneous and irrepressible inspiration. In reality, the composer, like any creator, must devote himself to scholarly, painful, thoughtful work - oh how much! - which articulates the unspeakable to make of it a discourse whose coherence is to be sought not in its only rigor, but also in its beauty and its intuition. Ensuite, qui dit classicisme dit rapport au réel. Non plus seulement lorsque l'artiste dans son jeu narcissique ne fait que se dire et se contempler soi-même au miroir de son apparence. Mais surtout lorsque l'homme en quête du vrai reçoit le réel et sa diversité comme un autre langage. Le croyant, lui, y reconnaît Celui qui parle dans la création Dieu qui est son auteur. Alors, les balbutiements de l'artiste ne sont qu'une obéissance au langage de Dieu qui se dit dans sa création, même s'il lui faut l'accueillir en recueillant précieusement les chants d'oiseaux ! Ce rapport au réel rend l'artiste le plus novateur et apparemment le plus iconoclaste infiniment respectueux des cultures surgies des cœurs et des mains des hommes. Dès lors, il n'y a plus d'exotisme dans la symphonie des cultures humaines. Les débris des cultures passées, les apports des cultures lointaines sont comme revivifiés par celui qui sait y entendre le Créateur de l'homme chanter par la bouche de l'homme, sa créature. Then, who says classicism says relation to reality. Not only when the artist in his narcissistic game does nothing but talk about and contemplate himself in the mirror of his appearance. But above all when the man in search of truth receives reality and its diversity as another language. The believer recognizes the One who speaks in creation, God who is its author. So, the artist's beginnings are only obedience to the language of God which is said in his creation, even if he must welcome it by carefully collecting the songs of birds! This relationship to reality makes the most innovative artist and apparently the most iconoclastic, infinitely respectful of cultures that emerge from the hearts and hands of men. Consequently, there is no longer any exoticism in the symphony of human cultures. The remains of past cultures, the contributions of distant cultures are as if revived by those who know how to hear the Creator of man singing through the mouth of man, his creature. Enfin, dans la culture contemporaine, dans l'expérience esthétique de notre pays, le vrai danger qui menace les créateurs est d'être coupés du peuple. De s'adonner à un art de « chapelle », un art d'esthète, un art sans public, sinon de mode et d'humeur. Or, vous êtes un musicien d'église. Et vous êtes parmi les seuls musiciens contemporains dont l'œuvre, au gré des organistes et des assemblées, est, de dimanche en dimanche, jouée, donnée, livrée à l'oreille et au cœur de foules non triées de croyants. Et cette œuvre contemporaine - ô combien !- fût-elle parfois surprenante pour certains - est accueillie, acceptée, aimée, reconnue. L'art d'église a cette chance inouïe, qui n'existe en aucun autre domaine de l'art contemporain, de ne pas dépendre des publics choisis par les cooptations fugitives des modes ou des snobismes, des commandes ou de l'argent, mais d'être au service d'un peuple que réunit l'acte du culte, la forme la plus fonda­mentale et la plus désintéressée de la culture. L'œuvre musicale y est un langage; et l'artiste est appelé à accomplir une fonction médiatrice face à l'invisible réalité de Dieu. II se fait entendre à un peuple à l'écoute de cette Parole divine qui lui est adressée dans chaque célébration. Finally, in contemporary culture, in the aesthetic experience of our country, the real danger that threatens creators is to be cut off from the people. To indulge in an art of "chapel", an art of esthete, an art without public, if not of fashion and humor. Now, you're a church musician. And you are among the only contemporary musicians whose work, according to the organists and the assemblies, is, from Sunday to Sunday, played, given, delivered to the ears and the hearts of unsorted crowds of believers. And this contemporary work - oh so much! - even though it was sometimes surprising to some - is welcomed, accepted, loved, recognized. Church art has this incredible chance, which does not exist in any other field of contemporary art, of not depending on the audiences chosen by the fleeting co-options of fashions or snobbery, commissions or money, but to be at the service of a people united by the act of worship, the most fundamental and disinterested form of culture. The musical work is a language there; and the artist is called to perform a mediating function in the face of the invisible reality of God. It makes itself heard by a people listening to this divine Word which is addressed to it in each celebration. Dès lors, ne nous étonnons pas si l'artiste doit dans son œuvre de création pratiquer toutes les disciplines spirituelles qui sont celles de l'expérience chrétienne à propre­ment parler. Platon notait déjà à propos de la musique qu'il y a des bons et des mauvais génies; et que, quoi qu'il en soit de la soumission. aux règles et du talent déployé, l'inspiration intérieure compte et qualifie d'une certaine façon l'œuvre. Et l'œuvre juge l'auteur. J'aurais vivement désiré pouvoir ici recueillir votre sentiment au sujet du jugement de Socrate que Platon nous rapporte dans La République. Y a-t-il ainsi des « harmonies » bénéfiques ou maléfiques ? Plus précisément en accord avec la dignité morale et spirituelle de l'homme, ou bien qui lui seraient contraires ? Laissons de côté cette identification objective entre la manifestation du Beau et l'expression du Bien. Therefore, let us not be surprised if the artist must in his work of creation practice all the spiritual disciplines which are those of the Christian experience properly speaking. Plato already noted with regard to music that there are good and bad geniuses; and that, regardless of the submission. with the rules and talent displayed, interior inspiration counts and qualifies in a certain way the work. And the work judges the author. I would have greatly wished to be able here to collect your feelings on the subject of the judgment of Socrates that Plato relates to us in The Republic. Are there thus beneficial or evil "harmonies"? More precisely in accordance with the moral and spiritual dignity of man, or who would be contrary to him? Let us leave aside this objective identification between the manifestation of Beauty and the expression of Good. ​ Nous pouvons dire, en tout cas, qu'il existe une intime connexion, nécessaire mais non suffisante, entre la recherche de Dieu et l'expression du beau. Je dis bien : non suffisante, sans doute. Car hélas ! dans notre monde cassé entre la recherche de la vérité et l'expression de la beauté, écartelé entre la sainteté et l'esthétique, les discordances ne sont pas rares. Mais, il faut travailler à la réconciliation de ces deux expériences. Et, vous le savez mieux que quiconque, la quête obstinée et patiente de l'artiste véritable, son humble obéissance à la recherche de l'insaisissable et de l'indivisible, l'usure indéfinie des forces et l'incertitude du résultat trouvent comme analogie la montée du mystique qui veut obéir à l'obscure lumière que lui donne le Seigneur et Rédempteur de tous. L'obstination de cet artiste-là n'a de comparable que la patience de celui qui prie, contemple et médite. We can say, in any case, that there is an intimate connection, necessary but not sufficient, between the search for God and the expression of the beautiful. I say: not sufficient, no doubt. Because alas! in our world broken between the search for truth and the expression of beauty, torn between holiness and aesthetics, discrepancies are not rare. But, we must work to reconcile these two experiences. And, you know it better than anyone, the stubborn and patient quest for the true artist, his humble obedience in the search for the elusive and the indivisible, the indefinite wear and tear of forces and the uncertainty of the result are found as analogy the rise of the mystic who wants to obey the obscure light given to him by the Lord and Redeemer of all. The stubbornness of this artist can only be compared with the patience of one who prays, contemplates and meditates. ​ C'est pourquoi je me permets de remercier ici, en cette occasion, tous ceux et celles qui ont voulu contribuer à créer un comité dont j'attends beaucoup. Son nom est un programme : Art, Culture et Foi. II voudrait faire se rejoindre les chemins de la recherche de Dieu et ceux du service du beau. De la sorte, puisse la vraie liberté de l'artiste qui grandit à l'école de la purifi­cation, puisse le vrai désintéressement d'un peuple qui reconnaît un don de Dieu dans les grâces données aux serviteurs de l'art et du beau, se rencontrer et contribuer à ce que notre terre exprime cette Beauté invisible et secrète que nos yeux, un jour, contempleront et que nos oreilles, un jour, entendront. Déjà, les chants célestes plus beaux que tout autre chant en ce monde, associent à leur union dans l'Eucharistie tous les chants du monde par nos voix : « una voce dicentes... » This is why I take the liberty of thanking here, on this occasion, all those who wanted to help create a committee from which I have great expectations. Its name is a program: Art, Culture and Faith. He would like to bring together the paths of the search for God and those of the service of beauty. In this way, may the true freedom of the artist who grows up in the school of purification, may the true disinterestedness of a people who recognize a gift from God in the graces given to the servants of art and beauty, to meet and contribute to our earth expressing this invisible and secret Beauty that our eyes, one day, will contemplate and that our ears, one day, will hear. Already, the heavenly songs, more beautiful than any other song in this world, associate with their union in the Eucharist all the songs of the world through our voices: "una voce dicentes ..." Que le Seigneur de gloire vous bénisse, Maître, lui qui vous a fait la grâce de le servir et de servir son Peuple par votre art. Paris le 28 mars 1989 May the Lord of glory bless you, Master, he who has given you the grace to serve him and to serve his people through your art. Paris March 28, 1989 Cardinal Jean-Marie LUSTIGER II- MESSE DE REQUIEM POUR OLIVIER MESSIAEN Extrait de l’Homélie du Cardinal Jean-Marie LUSTIGER EGLISE DE LA SAINTE TRINITE, PARIS ; 14 MAI 1992 Olivier Messiaen voyait le passage énigmatique de la mort comme un accès à la gloire divine tant désirée et peut-être anticipée par les mystères de son art. Olivier Messiaen saw the enigmatic passage of death as an access to the divine glory so longed for and perhaps anticipated by the mysteries of his art. Toute vie d'homme est un signe de Dieu. Les unes ne sont déchiffrables que dans le secret ultime évoqué par saint Jean dans l'Apocalypse (chapitre 2, verset 17) : au jour de « révélation », chacun recevra le nom nouveau, connu de lui seul, gravé sur une pierre blanche que le Maître de toutes choses lui donnera. D'autres, au contraire, ont cette grâce d'être en ce monde des révélateurs, des êtres par qui apparaît ce qui est caché. Parfois, cela coïncide avec le génie ou le talent extrê­me, avec des destins hors du commun. All human life is a sign from God. Some can only be deciphered in the ultimate secret mentioned by Saint John in the Apocalypse (chapter 2, verse 17): on the day of "revelation", each will receive the new name, known only to him, engraved on a white stone that the Master of all things will give him. Others, on the contrary, have this grace of being in this world revelators, beings through whom what is hidden appears. Sometimes it coincides with genius or extreme talent, with extraordinary destinies. La vie d'Olivier est certainement de celles-là. En lui – par ce qu'il a été, et par ce qu'il a fait – apparaît avec une pleine clarté une réalité que nous avons du mal à saisir. L'expérience proprement spirituelle, c'est-à-dire dans l'Esprit Saint, l'expérience de la foi (le Christ Messie, doux et humble de cœur, Seigneur de gloire, Fils éternel et Verbe de Dieu, nous fait entrer par le don de l'Esprit dans le mystère ineffable du Père des cieux), cette expérience de la foi, dis-je, dans son insondable beauté et son déploiement dont l'être humain explore peu à peu les richesses insoupçonnées, coïncide avec un autre type d'expérience, celle de l'esthétique, de la musique, pour prendre les termes les plus familiers. Olivier's life is certainly one of them. In him - by what he was, and by what he did - appears with full clarity a reality that we have difficulty grasping. The properly spiritual experience, that is to say in the Holy Spirit, the experience of faith (Christ the Messiah, meek and humble of heart, Lord of glory, Eternal Son and Word of God, brings us into by the gift of the Spirit in the ineffable mystery of the Father in Heaven), this experience of faith, I say, in its unfathomable beauty and its unfolding, of which the human being gradually explores the unsuspected riches, coincides with a another type of experience, that of aesthetics, of music, to use the most familiar terms. ​ Lorsque nous disons qu'Olivier Messiaen a été un musicien liturgique, un musicien d'Église, un croyant musicien, nous trébuchons sur les mots. Car il ne s'agit pas seulement d'une convergence accidentelle, mais d'une concentration, d'une focalisation sur l'essentiel de la vie et de l'intelligence humaine et divine. En réalité, ces deux chemins s'entremêlent et se recouvrent. Et Olivier Messiaen ne confiait-il pas : « Le drame de ma vie, c'est que j'ai écrit de la musique religieuse pour un public qui n'a pas la foi ». When we say that Olivier Messiaen was a liturgical musician, a church musician, a believing musician, we stumble over words. Because it is not only an accidental convergence, but a concentration, a focus on the essentials of life and human and divine intelligence. In reality, these two paths intertwine and overlap. And Olivier Messiaen did not confide: "The drama of my life is that I wrote religious music for an audience that does not have faith". Olivier Messiaen a été l'un de ces hommes en qui la coïncidence entre l'œuvre musicale et le chemin spirituel s'est expri­mée avec une telle sérénité, une telle assurance, que sont dépassées les séparations, les divisions, les hostilités, les incom­préhensions parfois mortelles qui ont pu exister entre cette Église que Messiaen aime tant et qu'il nous aide à aimer, et l'art avec ses obscurités et ses lumières, ses allées et venues, ses échecs et ses foudroyantes découvertes. Olivier Messiaen was one of those men in whom the coincidence between the musical work and the spiritual path was expressed with such serenity, such assurance, that separations, divisions, hostilities, misunderstandings are overcome. sometimes deadly that may have existed between this Church that Messiaen loves so much and that he helps us to love, and art with its obscurities and its lights, its comings and goings, its failures and its lightning discoveries. Avec Olivier Messiaen, nous comprenons mieux l'amour mutuel que nous devons nous porter. Nous mesurons la recon­naissance que le peuple des croyants doit à l'artiste capable non pas d'illustrer la foi, mais de faire chanter à des oreilles humaines le plus insondable et le plus inconnaissable langage. With Olivier Messiaen, we better understand the mutual love that we must have for each other. We measure the gratitude that the people of believers owe to the artist capable not of illustrating the faith, but of making human ears sing the most unfathomable and the most unknowable language. L'art est ici comme un vêtement, comme une chair de surcroît à cette chair qu'est la Parole divine, le Verbe incarné. L'art est ici surabondance de la Parole qui nous fait pénétrer dans l'au-delà de la Parole. Art is here like a garment, like a flesh in addition to this flesh which is the divine Word, the Incarnate Word. The art here is an overabundance of the Word which makes us penetrate into the beyond of the Word. Olivier Messiaen nous montre aux uns et aux autres comment avancer dans le chemin qui est le nôtre. Il nous invite et nous encourage à obéir à la Vérité qui est aussi Beauté. Paris le 14 mai 1992, Eglise de la Sainte Trinité Olivier Messiaen shows us both how to move forward on our path. He invites us and encourages us to obey the Truth which is also Beauty. Paris May 14, 1992, Church of the Holy Trinity III- OUVERTURE DU FESTIVAL MESSIAEN, 1995 Intervention du Cardinal Jean-Marie LUSTIGER EGLISE DE LA SAINTE TRINITE, PARIS ; 8 MARS 1995 Extrait de l’intervention du Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, lors de la soirée inaugurale du Festival Messiaen, à l'église de la Sainte-Trinité, Paris. Ces paroles traitent essentiellement de l'œuvre d'orgue du maître, qui avait été intégralement donnée au cours de ce festival. Nous conservons le style oral de cette intervention. « Olivier Messiaen n'a pas été un « fabricant de liturgie ». Il n'a rien fait qui soit utilisable dans ce registre. Mais il acréé un nouveau genre, puisque l'œuvre d'orgue est comme une place, qui brusquement est prise dans le culte catholique [par] la musique seule, qui ne se substitue pas à l'acte du culte, mais qui y ajoute comme une nouvelle dimension„Ÿ analogue et comparable à ce que fut la cantate, sans doute, dans le culte luthérien, mais qui se déploie à l'intérieur de l'espace sacramentaire et eucharistique du culte catholique. C’est, me semble-t-il, non seulement un nouveau genre musical mais un nouveau genre liturgique, où l'œuvre d'orgue n'est pas là seulement pour accompagner une action et couvrir les bruits d'une assemblée... n'est pas là comme soutien plus ou moins renforcé d'un chant plus ou moins déficient... n'est pas là comme pour donner voix à un chœur ou à une foule qui cherche sa voix ou ses voix... Il se fait entendre comme la voix, oserais-je dire, d'un concélébrant, « cocélébrant », qui par lui-même ajoute le déploiement de la méditation contemplative, devenue communicable à une foule par la grâce du langage esthétique et de la musique. Extract from the intervention of Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, during the inaugural evening of the Messiaen Festival, at the Church of the Holy Trinity, Paris. These lyrics mainly deal with the master's organ work, which was given in full during this festival. We keep the oral style of this intervention. “Olivier Messiaen was not a“ maker of the liturgy ”. He did nothing that could be used in this registry. But he created a new genre, since the organ work is like a place, which is suddenly taken in Catholic worship [by] music alone, which does not replace the act of worship, but adds to it. as a new dimension „Ÿ analogous and comparable to what the cantata was, no doubt, in Lutheran worship, but which unfolds within the sacramental and Eucharistic space of Catholic worship. It is, it seems to me, not only a new musical genre but a new liturgical genre, where the organ work is not there only to accompany an action and cover the noises of an assembly. . is not there as a more or less reinforced support for a more or less deficient song ... is not there as if to give voice to a choir or to a crowd which seeks its voice or its voices ... It is heard like the voice, dare I say, of a concelebrant, "co-celebrant", which by itself adds the deployment of contemplative meditation, which has become communicable to a crowd by the grace of aesthetic language and music. Et [le] caractère savant [de cette musique] est une garantie de sa rectitude spirituelle, de sa rigueur spirituelle. Nous ne sommes pas là devant le déploiement abusif du sentiment religieux; nous sommes là devant une œuvre qui, s'appuyant sur la sensibilité et l'esthétique, veut nous mener jusqu'aux rigueurs pures et saintes de la contemplation du mystère ineffable ». Paris le 8 mars 1995, Eglise de la Sainte Trinité Petit supplément : « Il se trouve que j’ai été très touché par la musique de Messiaen. J’y entends ce que la Parole peut inspirer à un musicien et ce qu’un musicien peut exprimer d’une Parole reçue ; j’y ai trouvé, dans la méditation exprimée du musicien, des aspects qui m’ont aidé à comprendre la Parole neuve qu’il commentait… » And [the] learned character [of this music] is a guarantee of its spiritual rectitude, of its spiritual rigor. We are not here in the face of the abusive display of religious sentiment; we are there in front of a work which, based on sensitivity and aesthetics, wants to lead us to the pure and holy rigors of the contemplation of the ineffable mystery ”. Paris March 8, 1995, Church of the Holy Trinity Small supplement: “I happened to be very touched by Messiaen’s music. I hear what the Word can inspire in a musician and what a musician can express from a received Word; I found there, in the expressed meditation of the musician, aspects that helped me to understand the new Word that he was commenting on ... " Cardinal Lustiger, extrait d’interview, Janvier 2005. Le Cardinal Aron Jean-Marie Lustiger a été rappelé à Dieu le dimanche 5 août 2007, dans la soirée, en la vigile de la Transfiguration. Cardinal Lustiger Further writings, papers and readings Interview with Messiaen and Edith Walter. First published in French magazine 'HARMONIE' 1970. The interview focuses on La Transfiguration then only recently composed. Cheong, Wai-Ling. "Symmetrical Permutation, the Twelve Tones, and Messiaen's Catalogue d'oiseaux." Perspectives of New Music 45/1 (Winter 2007): 110-37. Christoph Neidhöfer. "A Theory of Harmony and Voice Leading for the Music of Olivier Messiaen." Music Theory Spectrum, Vol. 27 Issue 1, pp. 1-34. 2005. Gareth Healey: "Messiaen and the concept of 'Personages'. Tempo (October 2004) Nigel Simeone: 'Messiaen and the Concerts de la Pléiade: "A Kind of Clandestine Revenge on the Occupation" ' Music & Letters (November 2000) Nigel Simeone: 'Offrandes oubliées: Messiaen in the 1930s', (Musical Times, Winter 2000) Nigel Simeone: 'Offrandes oubliées 2: Messiaen, Boulanger and José Bruyr', (Musical Times, Spring 2001) Nigel Simeone: ‘Daniel-Lesur’, Musical Times (Winter 2002), pp.6–8 [obituary, including the first publication of a speech by Messiaen about Daniel-Lesur] Nigel Simeone: ‘An Exotic Tristan in Boston: The First Performance of Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie’, King Arthur in Music, ed. R. Barber [Arthurian Studies, vol.52] (Boydell and Brewer, 2002), 106–125 [book chapter]. Nigel Simeone: 'Towards "un succès absolument formidable": the birth of Messiaen's La Transfiguration'. Musical Times (Summer 2004) pp.5-24. N. Simeone: ‘”Chez Messiaen, tout est prière”: Messiaen’s appointment to the Trinité in 1931,’ Musical Times (Winter 2004)pp.36-53 Vincent Benitez: Simultaneous Contrast and Additive Designs in Olivier Messiaen's opera St. François d'Assisie. Music Theory Online 8.2 (August 2002) Vincent Benitez: A Creative Legacy: Messiaen as Teacher of Analysis. College Music Symposium 40. 2000 117-39 Vincent Benitez: Aspects of Harmony in Messiaen's Later Music: An Examination of the Chords of Transposed Inversions on the Same Bass Note. Journal of Musicological Research 23 no.2 (April-June 2004): 187-226. ​ Jean Barraqué: 'Rythme et dévéloppement', Polyphonie (1954) Jonathan Bernard: 'Messiaen's Synaesthesia: the Correspondence Between Color and Sound Structure in His Music'. Music Perception, IV (1986) Pierre Boulez: 'Olivier Messiaen' Anhaltspunkte (Stuttgart and Zurich, Belser 1975) Leonard Burkat: Turangalila Symphonie, Musical Quarterly, xxxvi (1950) Norman Demuth: 'Messiaen's Early Birds', Musical Times (1960) David Drew: 'Messiaen, a Provisional Study', The Score (1954) Adrian Evans: Olivier Messiaen In The Surrealist Context: A Bibliography Part One Brio Vol 11 No 1 Spring 1974 IAML UK Olivier Messiaen In The Surrealist Context: A Bibliography Part Two Brio Vol 11 No 2 Autumn 1974 IAML UK ‘Messiaen and Surrealism’ see article Bennett Gardiner: 'Dialogues with Messiaen'. Musical Events xxii (1967) Hellmut Heiss: 'Struktur und Symbolik in 'Reprises par interversion" und "Les mains de l'abîme" aus Olivier Messiaen's Livre d'Orgue'. Zeitschrift für Musiktheorie (1970) Trevor Hold: 'Messiaen's Birds'. Music and Letters. (1971) Messiaen issue of Melos xxv/12 (1958) Messiaen issue of Musik-Konzept, 28 (1982) Roger Nichols: 'Boulez on Messiaen'. Organist's Review (August 1986) Roger Nichols: 'Messiaen's "Le Merle noir": the Case of a Blackbird in a Historical Pie'. Claude Samuel: 'Discographie compléte', Diapason-Harmonie (December 1988) Roger Smalley: 'Debussy and Messiaen', Musical Times cix (1968) Harriet Watts: 'Canyons, Colours and Birds: an Interview with Olivier Messiaen', Tempo 128 (1979) Les Editions de Minuit, CONTREPOINTS. No 1, Janvier 1946. Revue de Musique dir. par Fred. Goldbeck. Paris, 1946,128 pages. Contient: OEUVRES DE DARIUS MILHAUD, par Francis Poulenc. FRANCIS POULENC, MUSICIEN FRANCAIS, par A, Schaeffner - LA PROPAGANDE ALLEMANDE ET LA MUSIQUE, par Marc Pincherle - MUSIQUE ET RESISTANCE , par H. Barraud, Olivier Messiaen musicien mystique ?, Eric Satie évoqué a Londres .... War Music. A play by Bryan Davidson Directed by Jessica Kubzansky b ased upon dramatic events in the lives of composers Frank Bridge, Anton Webern, and Olivier Messiaen Vincent Benitez: Narrating Saint Francis's Spiritual Journey: Referential Pitch Structures and Symbolic Images in Messiaen's Saint François d'Assise. (In Poznan Studies on Opera Vol 4, Theories of Opera, ed. Maciej Jablonski, 363-411. Poland; Publishing House of the Poznan Soc. for the Advancement of the Arts and Sciences. Section of Music and Fine Arts, Publication of the Committee for Musicology, Vol 16 2004.) Jennifer Bate Jennifer Bate and Olivier Messiaen Jennifer is famous for her interpretation of both modern and romantic music. In particular, she enjoys a unique reputation as the world authority on the French composer Olivier Messiaen, and was his organist of choice. Indeed, she “may claim honors as THE Messiaen player of this generation” . In 1975, when Jennifer was due to broadcast a programme of Messiaen’s music, the BBC invited the composer to hear her preparing it. She played to him and Mme Messiaen at St James’s Church, Muswell Hill. Messiaen immediately made a dedication on the scores she played and also gave her the following written recommendation: “Jennifer Bate is an excellent organist, not only for her virtuosity, but also for her musicianship and sensitivity in choosing her timbres. She is a really accomplished musician who loves what she plays and knows how to make others love it too”. This visit marked the beginning of a close artistic association and friendship with both Olivier Messiaen and his wife, Yvonne Loriod. The press reviews of her début recording (the three great works of Liszt) were so outstanding that the Gramophone magazine arranged an interview when her second record (Elgar and Schumann) was released. The Gramophone quoted Messiaen’s opinion of her artistry and John Goldsmith, of Unicorn records, immediately offered to record with her the complete organ works of Olivier Messiaen on the instrument of her choice. Having by now played many times in France, she chose the recently-built organ at Beauvais Cathedral. The recording took place between 1980 and 1982, appearing first on LP and cassette in six volumes, and subsequently on CD. Each volume was heard by Messiaen prior to release; he endorsed them all with enormous enthusiasm. All won international acclaim. The success of these recordings led to a number of Messiaen recitals, many attended by the composer. In 1983, Messiaen took her to his Paris agent and asked him to re-allocate to Jennifer all organ recitals scheduled for him. At this stage, he also started annotating all her scores with his personal nuances of interpretation. The high point came when he sent her the manuscript of his last masterpiece for organ, Livre du Saint Sacrement. She gave the British première at Westminster Cathedral in 1986, to a capacity audience with the composer present, receiving a 20-minute standing ovation and unanimous critical acclaim. The concert was filmed and shown on Channel 4 later that year. One week after this performance, she opened the Radio France complete Messiaen cycle, broadcast live in his presence and, while working together, he invited her to make the world première recording of Livre du Saint Sacrement on his own instrument in Paris, arranging his schedule to attend all rehearsals and recording sessions. This recording had exceptional international success, including the award of a Grand Prix du Disque. Jennifer gave 25 performances of Livre du Saint Sacrement round the world before the score was published. Jennifer was the Artistic Advisor to, and performed in, the LWT South Bank Show television programme about Messiaen in 1985. This programme has been shown all over the world. There were three screenings at the Barbican in 1999 as part of Visions – The Music of Olivier Messiaen. Jennifer gave the second London performance of Messiaen’s Livre du Saint Sacrement at the Royal Festival Hall in 1988. A full house, again with the composer present, gave her another prolonged standing ovation and her playing attracted more magnificent press notices. Following the great success of the filming of the première of Livre du Saint Sacrement , Channel 4 commissioned a further programme. La Nativité du Seigneur was filmed in concert at the 1989 Norwich and Norfolk International Festival and shown on Christmas Day. La Nativité du Seigneur is distributed worldwide and is currently being promoted for 2002 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Messiaen’s death. In 1990, Jennifer’s outstanding ability and contribution to music received international recognition with the award of Personnalité de l’Année by the French-based jury. She was the first British woman to win the award and only the third British artist to do so after Sir Georg Solti and Sir Yehudi (later Lord) Menuhin; Sir Simon Rattle has since won it. In 1995, Jennifer opened a special festival at l’Eglise de la Sainte Trinité, Paris where Messiaen’s complete organ works were performed. The cycle was recorded by Jade Records; the boxed set of six CD’s received great acclaim, and Jennifer’s recording was also released as a separate CD winning, among other awards, the Diapason d’Or (France), Prix de Répertoire (France) and the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik (Germany). In 2001, she opened the new season of concerts at the Royal Festival Hall with a programme that included the UK première of a newly-discovered piece by Messiaen, Offrande au Saint Sacrement . In November, she was invited to Avignon by the Association Orgue hommage à Messiaen to give a recital and participate in the dedication of a plaque at the church where the composer was baptised. This was such a success that she was immediately re-engaged to repeat her programme in the 2002 Acanthes Festival. This is one of her many concerts around the world commemorating both the 10th anniversary of Messiaen’s death and the centenary of Maurice Duruflé’s birth. Regis Records has re-released all Jennifer's Messiaen recordings, made by Unicorn-Kanchana, as a boxed set of six CDs (RRC6001). These are also available as two single and two double CDs. All are at budget price and carry the Penguin CD Guide Top Recommendation, a judgement endorsed by The Gramophone (May 2002). Visit Jennifer's home page Back to top

  • List of Works | Olivier Messiaen

    List of Works Messiaen wrote a vast amount of music including many test and sight reading pieces when he was teaching at the Ecole Normale de Musique during the 1930s and many early works were either discarded or considered as 'mere student exercises and not worth publishing'; so some of these works and others that are unpublished to date appear in blue . 1917 La dame de Shalott - Piano 1921 Deux ballades de Villon I. Épître à ses amis II.Ballade des pendus - Voice & Piano Ballade des pendus (poeme by François Villon) 1925 La tristesse d'un grand ciel blanc - Piano 1926 Fugue - (sur un sujet d'Henri Rabaud) Orchestral 1927 Esquisse modale - Organ 1927 Pièce pour orgue sur un thème de Laparra - Organ 1927 Adagio - Organ, Violin and Cello 1926/27 Andantino (String Quartet) 1928 Fugue en ré mineur (Orchestra) 1928 L'hôte aimable des âmes - Organ 1928 La banquet eucharistique - Orchestral 1st and only performance on 22-1-1930 in an event called 'Exercice des éleves' at the Paris Conservatoire cond. by Henri Rabaud. 1928 Le banquet céleste - Organ (Leduc) The first edition of 1934 was written in 3/4 metre with no metronome mark. Messiaen revised this in 1960 with a metre of 3/2 and MM of quaver = 52. 1928 Variations écossaises - Organ 1928 Jésus (Poème symphonique) c.1929 Prélude en trio sur un thème de Haydn - Organ 1928-29 Préludes - Piano (Durand)1st private performance 28-1-1930 at Editions Durand by Messiaen 1st public performance 15-6-1937 by Bernadette Alexandre-Georges at Ecole Normale de Musique Paris 1930 Sainte-Bohème (Extrait des Odes funambulesques)-a setting for chorus and orchestra of a text by Théodore de Banville. 1930 Fugue pour le Concours de Rome (sur un sujet de Georges Hüe) 1930 Diptyque - Organ (Durand) 1st public performance 20-2-1930 Les Amis de l'Orgue, Eglise de la Trinite, Messiaen 1930 La mort du nombre - Vocal/Chamber - sop, ten, violin, piano (Durand) 1st public performance 1931 Societe Musicale Independante, Ecole Normale de Musique Paris. Georgette Mathieu (S), Jean Planel (T) Monsieur Blareau (vl) Messiaen (pn) 1930 Les offrandes oubliées - Orchestral -;;timp,perc,strings (Durand) 1st public performance 19-2-1930 Theatre des Champs Elysees, Les Concerts Straram dir. Walter Straram 1930 Les offrandes Oubliées - Piano version (Durand) LOWTop 1930/35 Offrande au Saint Sacrement - Organ (Leduc) 1929/30 Simple chant d'une âme - Orchestral 1930 Trois mélodies - Voice & Piano (Durand) 1st public performance 1930 Societe national de musique, Louise Matha and Messiaen 1931 Le Tombeau resplendissant - Orchestra - 3.3(1 cor ang).3(1clB).3- - strings(Durand) 1st public performance 12-2-1933 Salle Pleyel Paris dir Monteux c.1931 Fugue pour le Concours de Rome 1931 L'Ensorceleuse Cantate- sop, ten, bass and piano (or orchestra) Played through for the judges at the Prix de Rome competion 4 July 1931 1931 La Jeunesse des vieux - a short choral setting of a poem by Catulle Mendés 1932 Apparition de l'église éternelle- Organ (Lemoine) 1932 Fantaisie Burlesque - Piano (Durand)1st public performance 8-2-1933 by Robert Casadesus Concerts de la Societe Musicale Independante, Ecole Normale de Musique 1932 Hymne au Saint Sacrament - Orchestral -;,timp.perc,strings (Bro) 1st public performance 23-3-1933 cond. Walther Straram Théatre Champs-Élysées 1932 Thème et variations - Chamber - violin & piano (Leduc) 1st public performance 22-11-1932 at Cercle Musical de Paris Claire Delbos and Messiaen 1932-33 L'Ascension - Orchestral -;,timp,perc; (Leduc) 1st public performance 9-2-1935 at Salle Rameau, Concerts Siohan cond Robert Siohan 1933 Fantasie- Chamber - violin & piano (Durand 2007) First known performance:Schola Cantorum, paris 18 - 3 - 1935 (Messiaen and Delbos). Rediscovered in 2007 and published. 1933 Mass - Vocal - 8 sopranos 4 violins 1933-34 L'Ascension - Organ (Leduc) 1st public performance 29-1-1935 at saint-Antoine-des-Quinze-Vingts by Messiaen 1934 5 Leçons de Solfege a chanter - treble clef & piano accom. (Lemoine) 1934 Morceau de Lecture à vue for Piano 1935 La Nativité du Seigneur - Organ (Leduc) 1st complete public performance 27-2-1936 concert by Les Amis de l'Orgue at Trinité by Daniel Lesur mvt 1-3, Jean Langlais mvts4-6 and Jean-Jacques Grunenwald mvts7-9 1935 Pièce pour le tombeau de Paul Dukas - Piano (Durand) 1st public performance by Joaquin Nin-Culmell 25-4-1936 Ecole Normale de Musique Paris 1935 Vocalise - Voice & piano (Leduc) 1st public performance 18-5-1936 by Hennriette Quéru-Bedel and Messiaen 1936 Poèmes pour Mi - Vocal - sop & piano (Durand) 1st public performance 28-4-1937 Les Concerts de la Spirale, Marcelle Bunlet (s) Messiaen (pno) 1937 O sacrum convivium - Vocal SATB or sop & organ (Durand) 1st public performance 17-2-1938 Les Amis de l'Orgue at Trinité 1937 Poèmes pour Mi - Sop & Orchestra -;;3 perc;strings (Durand) 1937 Fêtes des Belles Eaux - 6 Ondes Martenots (Leduc) 1st public performance 25-7-1937 at Fete de la lumiere Paris 1938 Chants de terre et de ciel - Vocal sop & piano (Durand) 1st public performance 23-1-1939 Les Concerts du Triton, Ecole Normale de Musique, Paris. Marcelle Bunlet (s) Messiaen (pno) 1938 Deux monodies en quarts de ton - Ondes Martenot. Unpublished, the Deux Monodies in ¼ tones for Ondes Martenot were written when he was a professor at the École Normale de Musique in Paris. 1939 Les corps glorieux - Organ (Leduc) 1st private performance 22-7-1941 at Trinité 1st public performance 15-11-1943 at Trinité by Messiaen 1939 Vie pour Dieu des Ressuscités - Organ. A transcription of L'eau Movement 4 of Fêtes des Belles Eaux and later movement 5 of Quatuor pour la fin du temps. It is believed that Messiaen was to have used it as the second movement of Les corps glorieux but later deleted it. The first performance after its discovery was March 17th 2019 by Thomas Lacôte at La Trinité in Paris. 1940-41 Quatuor pour la fin du temps - Chamber - violin,clarinet,cello,piano (Durand)1st public performance during captivity 15-1-1941 in Stalag VIIIA, Gorlitz by Jean Le Boulaire, Henri Akoka, Etienne Pasquier and Messiaen. Then 24-6-1941 by Jean Pasquier, Andre Vacellier, Etienne Pasquier and Messiaen at Theatre des Mathurins, Paris (There is an arrangement of Louange a l'eternite de Jesus by Clytus Gottwald for 19 voices) 1941 Choeurs pour une Jeanne d'Arc I. Te Deum II.Impropères pour grand chœur et petit chœur mixtes, a cappella The choruses were written for Portique pour une fille de France a pageant by Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Barbier. 1942 Musique de scène pour un Oedipe [Dieu est innocent]- Electronic (1 Ondes Martenot) 1943 Rondeau - Piano (Leduc) 1943 Visions de l'Amen - 2 Pianos (Durand)1st public performance by Yvonne Loriod and Messiaen at Galerie Charpentier, Les Concerts se la Pleiade Paris 10-5-1943 1943-44 Trois Petites liturgies de la présence divine - Vocal/Orchestral - 36 womens voices,piano solo, ondes martenot solo, celesta, vibraphone, 3 perc; (Durand) 1st public performance 21-4-1945 Les concerts de la Pleiade, Salle du Conservatoire, Y Loriod, G Martenot Desormiere dir. 1944 Vingt regards sur l'enfant-Jésus - Piano (Durand) 1st public performance by Yvonne Loriod 26-3-1945 Salle Gaveau, Paris 1945 Harawi - Vocal - sop & piano (Leduc) 1st private performance 26-6-1946 at Étienne de Beaumont's house, Paris by Marcelle Bunlet and Messiaen 1st public performance 27-6-1946 at Galerie Georges Giroux, Brussels. 1945 Piéce , for oboe and piano 1945 Tristan et Yseult - Théme d'Amour - Organ 1945 Chant des déportés - Vocal & Orchestra -;;3 perc, piano, glock, strings (in large numbers) 1st public performance 2-11-1945 at Palais de Chaillot cond Manuel Rosenthal 1946-48 Turangalîla-Symphonie - Orchestral;; piano solo, ondes martenot solo; glock, celeste, vibraphone, 5perc; (Durand) 1st public performance 2-12-1949 Symphony Hall Boston USA Y.Loriod, G Martenot dir. Bernstein 1948 Cinq Réchants - Vocal 3S 3A 3T 3B (Salabert) 1st public performance 1949 Salle Erard Paris. Ensemble vocal Marcel Couraud dir. 1949 Cantéyodjyâ - Piano (UE) 1st public performance 23-2-1954 at Petit Théatre Marigny by Yvonne Loriod 1949-50 Messe de la Pentecôte - Organ (Leduc) 1st incomplete public performance 13-5-1951 at Trinité by Messiaen 1949-50 Quatre Études de rythme - Piano (Durand) 1st public performance by Messiaen, 6-11-1950 Alliance Française Tunis 1951 Livre d'orgue - Organ (Leduc) 1st public performance (France) March 1955 by Messiaen 1952 Le merle noir - Chamber - flute & piano (Leduc) 1952 Timbres-durées - Electronic/Musique Concrete 1953 Chant donneé {Leçon d'harmonie:Hommage à Jean Gallon} unspecified instrumentation, written in open score SATB. c.1953 Réveil des oiseaux - Orchestral -;; Piano solo, celeste, xylo, glock, 2 perc; (Durand) 1st public performance 11-10-1953 Donaueschingen Festival Germany. Loriod pno. Rosbaud dir. 1955-56 Oiseaux exotiques - Orchestral -;; piano solo, glock, xylo, 5 perc (UE) 1st public performance 10-3-1956 at Petit Théatre Marignt, Paris cond Rudolf Albert, Y.loriod pno. 1956-58 Catalogue d'oiseaux - Piano (Leduc) 1st public performance 15-4-1959 at Salle Gaveau by Y. Loriod 1959 Conférence de Bruxelles - Text (Leduc) 1959-60 Chronochromie - Orchestral -;; glock, xylo, marimba, 3 perc; (Leduc) 1st public performance 16-10-1960 at Donaueschingen cond. Hans Rosbaud 1960 Verset pour la Fête de la Dédicace - Organ (Leduc) Composed as a test piece for the Paris Conservatoire. 1961 La Fauvette Passerinette - Piano (performing realization by Peter Hill) 1962 Sept haïkaï - Orchestral -;; piano solo, xylo, marimba, 4 perc; (Leduc) 1st public performance 30-10-1963 at Odéon Theatre de France cond P.Boulez, Y.Loriod pno. Orch du Domaine Musical. 1963 Couleurs de la Cité Céleste - Orchestral -;; piano solo, xylo, xylorim,, marimba, 3 perc. (Leduc) 1st public performance 17-10-1964 at Donaueschingen, orch. Domaine Musical cond. Pierre Boulez, Y.Loriod pno. 1963 Monodie - for Organ (Leduc) 1964 Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum - Orchestral -;;6 perc. (Leduc) 1st public performance 7-5-1965 at Saint Chapelle cond. Serge Baudo 1964 Prélude for Piano - ed. Yvonne Loriod-Messiaen (Durand) 1st public performance by Yvonne Loriod 8-12-2000 Conservatoire national superieur de musique de Paris 1965-69 La Transfiguration de Notre Seigneur Jésus - Vocal/Orchestral - Choir: (10 voices per part). Orch: piano solo, cello solo, flute solo, clarinet solo, xylorimba solo, vibraphone solo, marimba solo;;;6 perc; (Leduc) 1st public performance 7-6-1969 at Coliseu Lisbon cond. Serge Baudo 1969 Méditations sur le mystère de la Sainte Trinité - Organ (Leduc) 1st private performance 8-11-1971 by Messiaen at Trinité. 1st public performance 20-3-1972 at Basillica of the Immaculate Conception, Washington USA by Messiaen 1970 La fauvette des jardins - Piano (Leduc) 1971 Le tombeau de Jean-Pierre Guezec - Horn solo 1971-74 Des Canyons aux étoiles - Orchestral -;; piano solo, horn solo, glock, xylorim, 5 perc; (Leduc) 1st public performance 20-11-1974 at Alice Tully Hall New York USA by Musica Aeterna Orch cond, Fredric Waldman, Y.Loriod pno. 1975-83 Saint-François d'Assise - Opera - Choir: (15 voices per part). Orch:;; xylo, xylorimba, vibraphone, marimba, glock, 5 perc; 3 ondes martenot; (Leduc) 1st public performance 28-11-1983 at Paris Opera cond. Seiji Ozawa 1977 Conférence de Notre - Dame - Text (Leduc) 1977 Improvisations (for L'Âme en bourgeon - texts by Cécile Sauvage) 1982 Sigle - a short piece for unaccompanied flute which has been published for the first time as an illustration in the French edition (Paris, Fayard, 2008) of the biography by Hill and Simeone. This was reused in "Éclairs sur l'au-delà" 1984 Livre du Saint Sacrament - Organ (Leduc) 1st public performance 1-7-1986 by Almut Rossler at Metropolitan Methodist Church Michigan USA 1985 Petites esquisses d'oiseaux - Piano (Leduc) 1st public performance 25-1-1987 in Paris by Y.Loriod 1985 Conférence de Kyoto - Text (Leduc)Feuillets inédits arr. for ondes Martenot & piano (No date of composition) (Durand) 1986 Un vitrail et des oiseaux - Orchestral -;; piano solo, xylo, xylorim, marimba,5 perc. (Leduc) 1st public performance 26-11-1988 at Theatre des Champs-Elysees cond. Pierre Boulez 1986 Chant dans le Style Mozart - Clarinet & Piano 1987 La ville d'En-haut - Orchestral -;, piano solo, glock, xylo, xylorim, marimba, 4 perc. (Leduc) 1st public performance 17-11-1989 at Salle Pleyel, BBCSO cond. P.Boulez 1988-92 Eclairs sur l'au-delà - Orchestral -;; crotales, glock, xylo, xylorim, marimba,, 10 perc; (Leduc) c.1987-91 Un oiseau des arbres de Vie (Orchestrated by Christopher Dingle). 1st performance 7 August 2015, Royal Albert Hall, BBC Philharmonic, Nicholas Collon. 1989 Un Sourire - Orchestral -;;xylo, xylorim,2 perc; (Leduc) 1st public performance 5-12-1991 1990-91 Concert à Quatre - Orchestral - flute solo, oboe solo, cello solo, piano solo and large orch. (Leduc) 1991 Pièce pour piano et quatuor à cordes - Chamber (UE) 1st public performance in Vienna 19-11-1991 Discovered in 1997 (composed c.1928) Prélude - Organ (Leduc) 2017 (based on Messiaen's notes taken from 1958) Fauvettes de l'Hérault - concert des garrigues - (Leduc) Piano (work reconstructed by Roger Muraro édition non répertoriée) 1st performance Toppan Hall, Tokyo, Japan. June 23 2017 Hymne des passereaux au lever du jour - solo clarinet (unknown date of composition) Feuillets inédits, quatre pièces pour Ondes Martenot et Piano. Discovered and arranged by Yvonne Loriod, these four short pieces date from the 1930's and published in 2002.(Leduc) Prélude pour orgue - c. 1928 published 2002 (Leduc) 2011 LECTURE AT KYOTO – KONFERENZ VON KYOTO (TEXTE ANGLAIS ET ALLEMAND) LEDUC AL 30473. German translation by Almut Rößler. English translation by Timothy Tikker Back to top

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