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:
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)