Events, CD & DVD Releases
6th January 2020. Amy Roberts, oboe & David Smith, piano Vocalise, arrangment for oboe & piano. St Martin in the Field, London, UK
26 January 2020 at 18:30 The Oriole Ensemble perform Quatuor pour la fin du temps. Conway Hall 25 Red Lion Square, London, Greater London, WC1R 4RL, UK
28 January 2020 20.00 Studierende der Musik und Kunst Privatuniversitat Wien perform Quatuor pour la fin du temps. Musikverein: Glaserner Saal, Vienna.
30 January 2020 The Ural Philharmonic Orchestra. Dmitry Liss (conductor), Nathalie Forget (ondes Martenot), Roger Muraro (piano) perform Turangalîla Symphonie. Mariinsky Theatre SAINT PETERSBURG Russia.
1 February 2020 09.30 Dudok Quartet perform Oraison (arr. David Faber). Musiekgebouw Small Hall Amsterdam, Netherlands.
1 February 2020. The Ural Philharmonic Orchestra. Dmitry Liss (conductor), Nathalie Forget (ondes Martenot), Roger Muraro (piano) perform Turangalîla Symphonie. Zaryadye Concert Hall MOSCOW Russia.
6 February 2020 1pm. RBC Symphony Orchestra/Michael Seal perform Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum. Symphony Hall, Birmingham. UK
8 February 2020 6pm Leslie Ann Leytham, mezzo-soprano, Brendan Nguyen, piano perform Harawi. St James Episcopal Church, La Jolla, CA, USA
9 February 2020 14:30 Thomas Lacôte, organ, perform Messe de la Pentecôte.Auditorium Radio France, Paris, France.
13 February 2020 19.30. Igor Levit and Markus Hinterhäuser, pianos perform Visions de l'Amen. Guildhall School of Music & Drama: Milton Court Hall Silk Street, Barbican, London, EC2Y 8DT, UK
14 15 16 February 2020 Orquesta Nacional de España cond. Diego Martín Etxebarria perform Hymne au Saint Sacrement. Auditorio Nacional de Música. Madrid, Spain.
15 February 2020 8:00pm Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Cond. Kent Nagano, Choir Radio France perform Trois petites Liturgies de la présence divine. Auditorium Radio France, Paris, France.
15 February 2020 8:00pm Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, Cond. Michael Francis, perform Zion Park et la cite celeste from Des Canyon aux étoiles…, Jugendstilfesthalle, Landau. Germany.
16 February 2020 7:30pm Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, Cond.Michael Francis, perform Zion Park et la cite celeste from Des Canyon aux étoiles…. Pfalzbau Konzertsaal Ludwigshafen. Germany.
18 February 2020 19.30 Altenberg Trio and Matthias Schorn, clarinet perform Quatuor pour la fin du temps.Musikverein: Brahms Saal, Vienna.
22 February 2020 16.00. BBC Singers cond. Ragnar Rasmussen perform O sacrum convivium! St. Giles Cripplegate, London, UK
23 February 2020 19.30. Wayne Marshall,organ performs Dieu parmi nous (La Nativité du Seigneur). Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, USA
28 February 2020 1pm. Matthew Odell, piano, performs Cloches d'angoisses et larmes d'adieu at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London, UK.
5 March 2020 19.30 Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano performs Le Merle bleu (Catalogue d'oiseaux). Royal Festival Hall, London.UK.
13 March 2020 at 13:00 Guillermo Ramasasa Clarinet, Naori Takahashi Violin, Marleen Hiemsch Cello Michel Xie Piano perform Quatuor pour le fin de temps. Charlton HouseCharlton Road, London, SE7 8RE, UK
14 March 2020 Orquesta Nacional de España cond. Diego Martín Etxebarria perform Les offrandes oubliées. Auditorio Nacional de Música. Madrid, Spain.
Please be aware that in the light of global health guidelines, many concerts will be postponed or cancelled so unless organisers inform me as such, the listings will remain for information.
17 March 2020 1.00pm. Artists from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire perform Quatuor pour le fin de temps. Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Recital Hall, Birmingham, UK
18-19 March 2020 8:30pm Orchestre de Paris, Cond. Hannu Lintu, Cedric Tiberghien piano, Cynthia Millar Ondes Martenot perform Turangalîla-Symphonie. Paris Philharmonic, Grande Salle Pierre Boulez, France.
19 March 2020 8:00pm Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Cond. Jun Märkl, perform Les offrandes oubliées. Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, Baltimore, USA.
19 March 2020 7:30pm Nadine Contini violin, Christoph Korn clarinet, Peter Albrecht cello, Anano Gokieli piano, perform Quatuor pour le fin de temps. Silent green Kulturquartier Berlin. Germany.
19 March 2020 7.30pm Manchester Collective: THE BIRDS, an immersive performance of Catalogue d'oiseaux played by Remis Zarins, piano. Lancaster University Arts Festival UK.
20 March 2020 7.30pm SFCM Chamber Orchestra, cond. Steven Schick perform Des Canyons aux étoiles... Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall, San Francisco, CA 94102, USA.
21, 23 March 2020 Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Roger Muraro, piano Nathalie Forget, Ondes Martenot cond. Marc Albrecht perform Turangalila Symphonie. Concertgebouw: Main Hall Concertgebouwplein 10, Amsterdam, North Holland, 1071 LN, Netherlands
25 March 2020 8:00pm Liesbeth Schlumberger, organ, perform L'Ascension. Auditorium Radio France, Paris, France.
29 March 2020 7:30pm Zurich University of the Arts Orchestra, Cond. Pierre-Andre Valade, perform Les offrandes oubliées. Tonhalle Maag Zurich, Switzerland.
10 April 2020 at 21:00 Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra Zoi Tsokanou, cond. perform Les offrandes oubliées. Thessaloniki Concert HallThessaloniki Concert Hall Martiou 25 & Paralia, Thessaloniki, Central Macedonia, 54246, Greece
13 April 2020 at 16:00 Raphaëlle Moreau Violin, Raphaël Sévère Clarinet Edgar Moreau Cello, David Kadouch Piano. Vingt Regards sur l'enfant Jésus: Première communion de la Vierge Murail,(b. 1947)Stalag VIIIA, pour violon, clarinette, violoncelle et piano, Quatuor pour la fin du temps (Quartet for the End of Time). Salle Élie de Brignac32 avenue Hocquart de Turtot, Deauville, Normandy, France
17 April 2020 at 13:00 Siobhan Stagg Soprano, Joseph Middleton Piano perform Poemes pour Mi. University of Leeds: Clothworkers Centenary Concert HallLeeds, Yorkshire and the Humber, LS2 9JT, UK
19 April 2020 18.00 Anna Prohaska, soprano Julius Drake, piano perform Harawi - chant d'amour et de mort: Bonjour toi, colombe verte. Pierre Boulez Saal, Berlin Germany.
24 April 2020 Tamara Stefanovich, piano, performs works by MESSIAEN. King's Place, London, UK.
27 April 2020 20.00. Roger Muraro, piano, performs Vingt Reards sur l'Enfant Jésus. Musée de l'Armée
Hôtel national des Invalides 129 rue de Grenelle, 75007 Paris, France.
2 May 2020 17:00pm Michael Schönheit, organ, perform Le banquet celeste, Les mages from La Nativitè de Seigneur. Great Hall, Gewandhaus Leipzig, Germany.
4 May 2020 at 20:00 Charlotte Juillard Violin Bruno Philippe Cello Raphaël Sévère Clarinet Tristan Raës Piano perform Quatuor pour le fin de temps. Grand Salon des Invalides129 Rue de Grenelle, Paris, Île-de-France, France
10 May 2020 17:00 Isabelle Weilbach-Lambelet violin, Michael Reid clarinet, Anita Lenzinger cello, Benjamin Engeli piano, perform Quatuor pour le fin de temps. St. John's Church on the Limmatplatz, Zurich, Switzerland.
11 May 2020 at 20:00 Ensemble Aedes, Mathieu Romano Director perform Vingt Regards sur l'enfant Jésus: Première communion de la Vierge, O sacrum convivium! Grand Salon des Invalides129 Rue de Grenelle, Paris, Île-de-France, France
16, 21, 23 May 2020 17.00 Hamburg State Opera cond. Kent Nagano perform Saint François d'Assise. Full cast and details here. Elbphilharmonie: Großer Saal Platz der Deutschen Einheit 1, Hamburg, 20457, Geremany.
17 May 2020 at 11:00. Ensemble de musique de chambre de l'orchestre de la Suisse Romande perform Quatuor pour le fin de temps. Bâtiment des Forces Motrices Place des Volontaires 2, Geneva, Switzerland.
17 May 2020 5pm L'Ensemble Contrechamps, L'Ensemble Polhymnia/Natalie Murray Beale Stefan Wirth, piano, Jacques Tchamkerten, ondes Martenot. Trois Petites Liturgies de la Presence Divine. Cathedrale Saint-Pierre, Geneve, Switzerland.
22 May 2020 at 20:00. Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, cond. Kazuki Yamada, Roger Muraro Piano, Cynthia MillarOndes Martenot perform Turangalîla-symphonie. Halle aux Grains1 Place Dupuy, Toulouse, Occitanie, 31000, France
23 May 2020 11.00. Claire Dassesse, violin, Benoît Willmann, Clarinet, Olivier Morel, cello, Deborah Lee, piano perform Quatuor pour la fin du temps. Batiment des Forces Motrices - Salle Theeodore Turrettini, Geneve, Switzerland.
23 May 2020 8:00pm Korbinian Altenberger violin, Christopher Corbett clarinet, Samel Lutzker cello, Lukas Maria Kuen piano, perform Quatuor pour le fin de temps. Max-Joseph-Saal Munich, Germany
24 May 2020 18:00pm Korbinian Altenberger violin, Christopher Corbett clarinet, Samel Lutzker cello, Lukas Maria Kuen piano, perform Quatuor pour le fin de temps. Protestant Academy Tutzing,Germany.
26 27 28 May 2020 Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal cond. Kent Nagano, Yuri Favorin, Piano Ondist TBA. Trois petites liturgies de la Présence Divine. La Maison Symphonique de Montreal, Montreal, Canada
3 June 2020 20.00 Isabelle Faust, Violin Jörg Widmann, Clarinet Jean-Guihen Queyras, Cello Pierre-Laurent Aimard piano perform Quatuor pour la fin du temps. Palau de la Música, Barcelona Spain.
9 June 2020 Peter O'Hagan performs Le baiser de l'enfant Jésus; Regard de l'esprit de joie from Vingt Regards sur l'enfant Jésus. Purcell Room, SBC, London UK
12 June 2020 MAKI SEKIYA (PIANO) performs Vingt Regards sur l'enfant Jésus. Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, Oxford Playhouse, Oxford OX1 2LW. UK.
12 June 2020 7.30pm THE BIRDS, an immersive performance of Catalogue d'oiseaux played by Remis Zarins, piano.at St George's, Bristol UK.
19 June 2020 8pm Stuttgarter Philharmoniker, Cond. Stefan Blunier, perform L'Ascension. Liederhalle Stuttgart, Germany.
19 June 2020 16.00 Aldeburgh Festival Sophie Bevan soprano Ryan Wigglesworth piano perform Poèmes pour mi. Britten Studio Snape Maltings, Snape, Suffolk, IP17 1SP UK. CANCELLED
19 June 2020 16.00 Aldeburgh Festival Ryan Wigglesworth conductor/piano Knusssen Chamber Orchestra perform Oiseaux Exotiques. Snape Maltings Concert Hall Snape Maltings, Snape, Suffolk, IP17 1SP UK. CANCELLED
25 -26 June 2020 8:00pm SWR Symphonieorchester, SWR Vokalensemble, WDR Rundfunkchor, Christine Ott Onde Martenot, Christoph Grund piano, Cond. Eliahu Inbal, perform perform Trois petites Liturgies de la présence divine. Liederhalle Stuttgart. Germany.
27 June 2020 7:30pm SWR Symphonieorchester, SWR Vokalensemble, WDR Rundfunkchor, Christine Ott Onde Martenot, Christoph Grund piano, Cond. Eliahu Inbal, perform perform Trois petites Liturgies de la présence divine. Rosengarten Mannheim. Germany.
28 June 2020 7:00pm SWR Symphonieorchester, SWR Vokalensemble, WDR Rundfunkchor, Christine Ott Onde Martenot, Christoph Grund piano, Cond. Eliahu Inbal, perform perform Trois petites Liturgies de la présence divine. Konzerthaus Freiburg.Germany.
26 18.00 28 June 15.00. 1 -3 July 18.00 and 5 July 15.00. 2020. Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, cond. Jonathan Nott perform Saint François d'Assise. Full cast and details here. Grand Theatre, Geneva, Switzerland.
24 July to 2 August 2020 Festival Messiaen au Pays de la Meije.
The 2020 theme is "Nature of time, time of nature" and will highlight the composer Philippe Manoury through a selection of his works and a new creation. The invited country will be Canada, especially Quebec, where Olivier Messiaen has visited several times. More details to follow.
Dear friends of the Messiaen Festival in the Land of the Meije,
While our thoughts accompany all those who fight against the epidemic, we hope to find you soon and that the music of today and tomorrow in the beautiful setting of the Land de la Meije is still ringing.
The opening of the ticket office is postponed but we will keep you informed of a date and the unveiling of the program.
Meanwhile, following the example of Olivier Messiaen, let's open our windows wide and - since we are told they are coming back - let's listen to the birds, musicians of cities, fields and mountains...
Take care of yourself,
See you soon,
The team of the Festival Messiaen
28 August 2020 at 19:30. Daniil Trifonov Piano performs Vingt Regards sur L'enfant-Jésus: Le baiser de l'enfant Jésus. Stiftung Mozarteum Salzburg: Großer SaalSchwarzstraße 26, Salzburg, 5020, Austria.
11 October 2020 18:00. Orquestra Sinfonica du Esmae/Peter Rundel soli tbc perform Turangalila Symphonie. Casa da Musica, Sala Suggia, Porto, Portugal.
22 December 2020 7.30pm Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano performs Vingt Regards sur l'enfant-Jesus. Casa da Musica, Sala Suggia, Porto, Portugal.
2 December 2020 8pm Oiseaux exotiques - Orchestre de la Suisse Romande/Jonathan Nott, Francesco Piemontesi, piano. Victoria Hall, Geneva and December 3 2020 8.15pm Salle Metropole, Lausanne, Switzerland.
22 December 2020 20.00 KAROL MOSSAKOWSKI organ performs La Nativité du Seigneur (extraits) : La Vierge et l’Enfant – Les Bergers. Auditorium Radio France.
13 January 2021 20:00 Steffen Schleiermacher piano perform 2 pieces out Catalogue d´Oiseaux, Neumes rhytmiques, Canteyodjaya. Gewandhaus Leipzig, Mendelssohn Saal, Germany.
25 March 2021 20.00 Momo Kodama, piano Orchestre National de France THOMAS SØNDERGÅRD direction perform Oiseaux exotiques. Auditorium Radio France.
29 March 2021 18:00pm Andreas Lehnert clarinet, Andreas Buschatz violin, Christain Giger cello, Yuka Kobayashi piano, perform Quatuor pour le fin de temps. Gewandhaus Leipzig, Mendelssohn Saal, Germany.
10 April 2021 19:30 Dresdner Philharmonie, Cond. Maxime Pascal, perform L´Ascension. Kulturpalast Dresden, Germany.
10 April 2021 22:15 Dresdner Philharmonie,Thierry Escaich, organ, perform L´Ascension. Kulturpalast Dresden, Germany.
11 April 2021 11:00 Dresdner Philharmonie, Cond. Maxime Pascal, perform L´Ascension. Kulturpalast Dresden, Germany.
23 April 2021 19:30 Sylvain Cambreling, conductor Roger Muraro, piano, Nathalie Forget, Ondes Martenot, Wiener Symphoniker orchestra perform Turangalîla-Symphonie. Wiener Konzerthaus, Great Hall. Wien, Austria.
25 April 2021 11:00 Sylvain Cambreling, conductor Roger Muraro, piano, Nathalie Forget, Ondes Martenot, Wiener Symphoniker orchestra perform Turangalîla-Symphonie. Wiener Konzerthaus, Great Hall. Wien, Austria.
CD & Audio Releases
Huit Préludes, Ile de Feu I&II, Fantasie Burlesque. Chiara Cipelli, piano. Release date: 10th February 2020. Piano Classics
La Nativité du Seigneur is played by Krakow-born organist Arcadius Biarich. DUX records. DUX1557
Tom Winpenny performs Meditations sur le Mystère de la Sainte Trinité.
Tamara Stefanovich performs Canteyodjaya and works by
Ives, Bartok and Bach. Pentatone ASIN: B07MCXWQHM
Connections - The music of Olivier Messiaen and his students.Matthew Odell, piano.
Albany Records. ASIN:B07MM6PGNT
This recording pairs three works by Messiaen with works by Tristan Murail, Pierre Boulez, and Michel Merlet. Odell worked with Boulez and Merlet on this repertoire and is giving world-premiere recordings of the Merlet pieces.
A rare recording has come to light by British conductor Reginald Goodall performing L'Ascension with the Royal Opera House Orchestra Covent Garden in 1961. Full details can be found on the Pristine Classical web site here.
Harawi. Sarah Maria Sun (soprano), Stefka Perifanova (piano)Label: Mode Cat No: MODLP310
Format: LP Number of Discs: 2 Expected Release Date: 10th January 2020Includes 12-page book with complete lyrics plus extensive text on Harawi by Siglind Brun, including copious illustrations and musical examples. NB: there is no CD format release.
THE COMPLETE VÉGA RECORDINGS 1956-1963 BY Yvonne Loriod
Works by Mozart, Liszt, Chopin, Schumann, Aleniz, deFalla Berg, Webern, Schoenberg,
Henze, Boulez, Barraqué, Stravinsky and Messiaen.
13 CDs album. Decca UPC 00028948170692
Charles Chaynes - Piano Concerto (1967 World Premier)
Yvonne Loriod with the ORTF Chamber Orchestra
Radio broadcast, France. Kipepeo Publishing. ASIN: B06Y286DZ7
First recording of Les Fauvettes de l'Hérault - Concert des garrigues (reconstructed by Roger Muraro - see below) Harmonia Mundi - HMM905304 together with Debussy's Études as part of the Debussy Centenary Edition.
New recording of Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant Jésus by Martin Helmchen.
Alpha. ASIN B07MLB1CWX
Catalogue d'Oiseaux by Ciro Longobardi.
Piano Classics PCL10155
Turangalila Symphonie Yutaka Sado (Conductor), Tonkünstler-Orchester, Roger Muraro (Piano), Valérie Hartmann-Claverie (Ondes Martenot)
Tonkünstler (Naxos Deutschland Musik & Video Vertriebs-)ASIN: B07FT6JMQ9
Messiaen: Couleurs de la Cité Céleste. Bruckner: Symphony No.8
Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano), London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Simon Rattle.
The London Symphony Orchestra's Couleurs de la Cité Céleste (with Aimard as soloist)
was recorded live at the Barbican in April 2016 and is released on the orchestra's own label.
Available Format: DVD Video + Blu-ray
South African pianist Benjamin Fourie performs Messiaen's Huit Préludes alongside compositions by fellow South African composers Étienne van Rensburg and (British born) Malcolm Dedman. Benjamin Fourie performed the South African premiere of Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant Jesus and it is with great regret that Benjamin passed away soon after the release of this CD. Enquiries and purchase:
Renowned French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard kicks off his exclusive engagement to PENTATONE with a recording of Olivier Messiaen’s Catalogue d’Oiseaux (1956-1958). The pianist had intimate ties to the composer himself and his wife, Yvonne Loriod, for whom Messiaen wrote the Catalogue. This is a truly pioneering and groundbreaking recording of Messiaen's masterpiece. Pierre-Laurent brings extraordinary naturalism to the music and his sonic painting takes the playing to another level of virtuosity. An incredible achievement. The luxurious CD box set contains an accompanying bonus DVD, on which Aimard shares his vast knowledge of and love for Messiaen’s work from behind the piano. PENTATONE PTC 5186 670
Jean-Rodolphe Kars performsVingt Regards sur l’Enfant Jésus. Recorded live by Dutch radio at a concert in the Kleine Zaal of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw on 30 April 1976
There have been many Messiaen pianists of note to perform and record his music during the last half-century, not least thanks to the composer’s generosity as a teacher of both the technical and spiritual aspects of his music, which go hand in hand as they do for very few others. Save for Messiaen’s second wife Yvonne Loriod, however, none of those pianists can claim so direct and profound an understanding of the composer and his music as Jean-Rodolphe Kars. This makes the present issue of a hitherto unreleased recording of the Vingt Regards all the more significant:.
Olivier Messiaen Organ Works
One can not be grateful enough for the way one of the greatest composers of the 20th century contributed to the organ tradition.
This playlist is a work in progress, i.e. it will include Messiaen's complete organ works in due time, also for educational purposes.
Visit Willem's Official site for more interesting projects on Messiaen's organ works including 'Olivier Messiaen and the Cave of Forgotten Sounds'
This project presents movements of Livre du Saint Sacrement interspersed wth responses and improvisations by Willem one of which is a tribute to Claire Delbos:
In Memoriam Claire Delbos.
Some CD reviews
Intégrale de l’oeuvre pour piano solo
Haruka Miyazaki (Piano)
Huit Preludes, La Fauvette Des Jardins, La Dame de Shalott.
Release date 10 November 2019. 299Music HMV Japan
Over the passed 20 years or so the number of performances and recordings of Messiaen’s music has steadily grown in Japan although for those of us living outside the country (especially in Europe) it has been notoriously difficult to obtain CDs and when we can they prove to be very expensive when import and customs duty is slammed on. This said, it is often the case that us ‘foreigners’ are amply rewarded with exquisitely produced products and fine performances.
Haruka Miyazaki has embarked on a journey claiming to record all the solo piano works by Messiaen and this is the third in the series. Volumes ‘Messiaen I and II’ are devoted to the Catalogue d’oiseaux and I have yet to listen or obtain these but I was particularly intrigued by the collection of works on Messiaen III as it included La Dame de Shalott, Messiaen’s Opus 1 inspired by the Tennyson poem and composed when he was just eight years old.
The CD opens with the 8 Preludes Messiaen’s first published work. Composed when he was twenty he had already a passionate love of birds but without the knowledge of how to write down their songs. However, he did have an innate sense of sound-colour and the Preludes draw on his developing work with modes of limited transposition. There are obvious nods to Debussy and Ravel but Messiaen never regarded the work as impressionistic. Miyazaki has an ideal touch to convey the musical colours and shape of the pieces as well as a clear sense of melodic and harmonic balance. There is just one (repeated) mis-read chord in No.2 (Chant d’extase dans un paysage triste) that takes away a little of the intended spice.
La Fauvette des Jardins (The Garden Warbler) 1970 is the main filling in this musical sandwich. Messiaen’s longest and most substantial piano solo (dedicated to birdsong) to date. The piece traces a sequence of natural events at Petichet (Messiaen’s summer retreat) from night time through daybreak, morning, afternoon, evening then full circle to night. Pianists taking on this work find themselves having to be their own ‘film director’ in the sense that the birdsongs are only part of this vast canvas that also includes ‘the night’, the undulating water of Lake Laffrey, the alders and above all the Grand Serre mountain, whose colourful hues change as the sun passes over during the day. Miyazaki rises to these challenges with unshaken security and a sense of drama and occasion. The song of the Fauvette des jardins is always forte and often tenaciously relentless and the playing remains persuasive and well shaped with all tenuto’s and accents observed, making this version comparable to the Loriod version of 1973 on Erato that was always the benchmark.
The CD concludes with La Dame de Shalott Messiaen’s first acknowledged composition worthy of inclusion in the catalogue of his works.
It was never published but Yvonne Loriod recorded a version in 1975 as part of the then ‘Integrale de l’oeuvre pour piano’ on Erato.
This is what Messiaen stated in the Erato booklet:
“In this “Lady of Shalott” a child’s imagination runs unleashed. Nothing is missing: the castle, the inflection of the spoken word, the song of Lady Shalott (weaving!), Sir Lancelot on horseback, the broken mirror, the tapestry which flies out of the window, the falling willow leaves and the death of the lady who lies in a boat drifting down the river (barcarole!)”.
Roger Muraro delivers a guided tour of La Dame de Shalott as part of the bonus DVD in his Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus presentation on Accord. He uses a manuscript supplied (reluctantly) by Yvonne Loriod-Messiaen and the music is that of her 1975-recorded version.
This version is in three parts and here are the names of each musical ‘scene’:
Part 1 – The magic castle – peasant’s conversations.
Part 2 – The weaver and La Dame d’Shalott singing at the spinning wheel.
Part 3 – Sir Lancelot rides on horseback – La Dame sees the knight – The magic mirror breaks – The wind blows the tapestry – The parting of the willow branches where she sees the boat – Finally she dies and drifts away in the boat.
Miyazaki was intrigued with La Dame de Shalott and felt she should include it in a ‘complete works’ recording. To achieve this she had to make a trip to the BNF in France to gain access to the original manuscript, which she duly did but was not able to remove the script or take photos. However, they did allow her to copy it in pencil by hand. So this is the world premiere of the ‘version non remaniée’ (unedited).
This version begins as above with Part 1 and 2 and mostly the same material as the Loriod (but for a couple of either mis-read or changed chords in the spinning wheel scene). Then the music proceeds straight into a version of the final scene where La Dame dies and floats away in the boat, after which the piece repeats from the start. So we don’t get Sir Lancelot riding on horseback – La Dame sees the knight – The magic mirror breaks – The wind blows the tapestry – or the parting of the willow branches where she sees the boat.
Nonetheless, after 102 years we finally have the original version of La Dame de Shalott and we must thank Haruka Miyazaki for her resourcefulness and dedication.
Meticulous care has been taken in the production of this CD, however the empty concert hall acoustic proved a little too reverberant to my ears to suit a sense of ‘outdoors’ in La Fauvette des Jardins.
MESSIAEN EDITION 18 CD BOXED SET. Warner Classics 2564 62162-2
When I was first exposed to the music of Messiaen many years ago now, it was through the French recordings of the Vega and Erato records. It’s easy to forget just how difficult these recordings were to get hold of in those days even though France was a mere 24 miles away, record imports were rare and expensive. Of course nowadays we can obtain a recording from the other side of the world within a couple of days (immediately if it’s available online) such was not the case then. In the mid 80s Erato had the good sense to put together a 17 CD box set of all these early and sometimes first recordings of their Messiaen catalogue.
These were presented in a bright rainbow coloured box with all the CDs in hard jewel cases each with their own booklet so the size was not unlike that of a car battery and almost weighing as much! As with many contemporary releases around this time it was soon deleted and became impossible to find. It is these recordings that Warner Classics have resurrected and have had the even better sense to present them in slip in wallets and fold out box where in this case the accompanying booklet weighs more than the CDs and takes up far less space.
So I grew up with a lot of this material and although some are more than forty years old now they still stand up as marvellous interpretations. Yes there have been many newer performances as we enter the 21st century and all have merits of one kind or another but we must remember that many of these Erato recordings were supervised by Messiaen himself and this I’m sure gives that ‘something special’ element that is sometimes lacking in present day performances.
The Eglise Notre-Dame du Liban was never that well sound proofed and the Paris traffic still rumbles by as Yvonne Loriod bravely soldiers through the Catalogue d’Oiseaux. Rather more disturbing is that Warner decided to introduce a ‘noise gate’ during the transfer of Le Loriot in an attempt to eradicate some pre echo that was present on the original recordings. This has resulted in the natural reverberation of the piano being ‘sucked’ out to an artificial silence after the opening chords. I personally would have lived with the slight pre echo and retained the piano resonance but there you are! And don’t try to skip directly to track 4 of CD17 (Des canyons aux étoiles) as you’ll miss the attack of the first chord.
There are a couple of new additions to the set. Turangalila Symphonie and Réveil des Oiseaux are recordings made by Kent Nagano after the composer's death. This reading of Turangalila is surely one of the most exciting but for a mis-placed cymbal crash in the last movement that presumably couldn’t be repaired due it being a live recording.
These minor points aside, this set is an invaluable tool to any student or listener coming to Messiaen for the first time as well as seasoned specialists who missed out on the original set. The booklet contains all the original notes (many by Messiaen) and texts to the choral works in English and French.
Although we still await re releases of the early Loriod piano material and the Erato Fetes des Belles Eaux recording, the Messiaen Edition is a truly welcome re issue and superb value for money for which Warner Classics must be applauded.
©Malcolm Ball 2005
Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant Jésus Yvonne Loriod 1975 (Erato), Pierre-Laurent Aimard 1999 (Teldec) Steven Osborne 2001 (Hyperion)
After trawling through various catalogues worldwide it appears that Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant Jésus is Messiaen's most recorded piano work since Yvonne Loriod's first recordings on Pathé 78s and subsequent LPs in 1956, my Vega boxed set of which, after wife and child, would probably be the first thing I would grab from a burning house!
With so many recordings past and present its been hard to single out individual offerings as most pianists have brought differing characteristics to this work over the years. Indeed its also been interesting to hear how Loriod's own interpretations have changed through time.
My first exposure to Vingt Regards was not Loriod but the Hungarian born Thomas Rajna who came to the Wigmore Hall, London to perform the cycle in its entirety I think as part of a tour to promote his newly released recording of the work on 3 LPs for the Saga Record label. Since then there have been offerings from the likes of John Ogden, Malcolm Troup, Michel Béroff, Hakon Austbo, Volker Banfield, Joanna MacGregor, Louise Bessette, Roger Muraro, Angela Hewitt and the great Peter Hill whose complete Messiaen Piano Music is to appear on Regis Records (its about time!).
The three contenders I have chosen represent real landmarks in the recording of Vingt Regards. I was always of the somewhat conceited opinion that a Loriod performance was the definitive - this was until I heard Aimard and Osborne when I realized that as history develops so a new higher level of interpretation develops. It is a fact of life that standards rise and boundaries are broken down, we see this in education constantly but I have to admit that it came as quite a shock to hear these performances and not be disappointed from the word go.
After hearing the first two bars of Regard du Pere played by Steven Osborne I thought at last someone (with the exception of Peter Hill) has captured what I think is the true tempo and spirit of this movement. So often it is far too fast as was the case of the then youthful Béroff, or its too muddy and unclear. This is reflected in the timings of this movement: Loriod 5.21, Aimard 6.10 but Osborne a winner at 8.10. I'm not saying that this cosmically slow pace always works, indeed in the last movement where Osborne takes a massive 15.34 to reveal the Church of Love against Aimards 11.59 can seem a bit ponderous - here Loriod gets it just right (as always).
Pierre-Laurent Aimard has made a feature of Regard de l'Esprit de joie as an encore in his recitals and his dazzling technical fireworks always brings the house down but generally I found some subtleties in his interpretation less convincing overall. Take for example the slow right hand chords in the 'Rappell de "la Vierge et l'enfant" section of Premiére communion de la Vierge - Aimard comes across as too bell like, almost 'clanky' whereas Loriod and especially Osborne has these chords merely glistening in the heavens.
The fiendishly difficult Par Lui tout á été fait has Steven Osborne playing like a man possessed shaving off a good minute and half from Aimard - real edge of the seat stuff!
All three seem to reach a happy medium in Regard de l'Esprit de joie with performances around eight and half minutes although Aimard's 'ritual oriental dance and hunt' are swifter.
Osborne's bird passages are particularly stunning with crystal clear articulation, speed and colour (I would dearly look forward to a Catalogue d'Oiseaux by this extraordinary pianist) akin to Messiaen's own interpretation of bird passages in his early recordings of Ile de feu 1 and Harawi.
One always comes back to the sheer stylish and deep understanding of Yvonne Loriod's playing - she really 'digs in' to all the accents and never misses an articulation so important in Messiaen's piano music where there is so much happening melodically not just between hands but between fingers (for example:' Les bras tendus vers l'amour' in Le baiser de l'enfant Jesus). This Erato set is increasingly hard to find but should still be available. Aimard's and Osborne's are readily available with Osborne's presented in a stylish jewel case and invaluable booklet with notes by Nigel Simeone quoting from Messiaen's own diary entries at the time of composing Vingt Regards.
Both the Teldec and the Hyperion recording suffer from the digital characteristic of a slight lack of piano 'depth' in the bass register. This is clearly heard in such movements as La parole toute-puissante and Noël where Messiaen asks for a reverberating tam-tam sound on the lowest three notes of the keyboard. Here they sound a little 'wooden' but the Loriod - Erato scores hands down as the ADD recording captures that growling depth impeccably.
If you only have one version of Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant Jésus it has to be Yvonne Loriod. If you can have two versions or you can't get hold of the Erato then the Steven Osborne - Hyperion is a must. He has certainly left his mark on this piece with this highly recommended presentation.
Olivier Messiaen Live: Improvisations inédites La Praye Disques
I stumbled on La Praye, a tiny web site and equally tiny independent label specializing in music for the organ, purely by chance. Based in Rully, France and Montreal, Quebec their small but highly significant catalogue revealed this 2 CD set of Messiaen improvising at the organ of La Trinité.
That these recordings came about at all is something of a small two pronged miracle, and is thanks to the ingenuity of Olivier Glandaz the organ builder who since 1977 has been responsible for the maintenance of the organ at La Trinité. It was his idea to make recordings of Messiaen's improvisations during some of the religious ceremonies and Sunday Masses at the church. The other prong of this small miracle is down to Maxime Patel the producer of the CD. Apparently Maxime Patel was approached by Jeanne Loriod in 2001 with an idea to mark the 10th anniversary of Messiaen's death with a release of a CD including Fête des Belles Eaux. Sadly this project was never realized due to the sudden death of Jeanne Loriod the same year. So Patel decided to honour the occasion with the release of these improvisations.
Olivier Glandaz recorded these improvisations between 1984 and 1987 using 'non professional' equipment and thanks to the remastering skills of Laurent Olivier we are presented with nearly two and a half hours of the maître at work. Armed only with his little well used book of Gregorian chant melodies, Messiaen weaves his magic over an often spellbound congregation who respond with spontaneous applause giving thanks for bringing into focus musically the lesson that had been read.
There are 29 improvisations in all displaying all aspects of Messiaen's organ technique and fondness for the characteristic combination registers of the Trinité organ in styles ranging from the sublime Priére du Christ montant vers son Pére (L'Ascension) and Priére avant la communion (Livre du Saint Sacrement) to fiery toccata moments a la Dieu Parmi Nous.
Organ music has always been notorious to record because of the inherent nature of location. The rumble of traffic, the slamming of the odd door has to be accepted on the best recordings and yes there is background noise and yes there is the odd clunking of furniture down below in the church but this never dims the experience of hearing this music in the spirit it was performed and for those of us who were never lucky enough to be part of the congregation at La Trinité these recordings are surely the next best thing. There is a DVD available (see 'resources' page) which features Messiaen improvising, again an invaluable document but one which lacks the spontaneity induced by a 'live' audience or congregation and that's what makes these CDs so important both to the Messiaen scholar and the interested listener.
MESSIAEN: Visions de l’Amen; 4 Etudes de rythme; Cantéyodjâya
Paul Kim, Matthew Kim, pianos. Centaur Records 2668 -- 73 minutes
This is the third release in Paul Kim’s complete Messiaen cycle, which is shaping up to be the new reference recording. In addition to being a terrific pianist, Kim is a true Messiaen scholar, having earned a PhD in musicology from New York University. The research has clearly paid off for these performances: the quality of his sound and gestures is, as the composer’s widow and pianist Yvonne Loriod avers, “perfect in every way.”
The pieces collected here are not for the newcomer to Messiaen: they include two difficult works from the late 1940s, one of which (Quatre Etudes de rythmes) is generally credited with—or blamed for—inspiring the spread of serialism after World War II. The other (Cantéyodjâya) is a fast but static collage made from a small handful of quirky musical ideas, which Messiaen has identified with fanciful names of Hindu origin.
For the big piece here, the bombastic yet austere Visions de l’Amen of 1943, Kim’s son Matthew, a prodigious young talent, joins him at a second piano. The two play with remarkable single-mindedness, idiosyncratic (and wonderful) voicings, terrific control over a dynamic range from butterfly-wing pianissimo to thundering sforzando, and just enough expression to light up Messiaen’s slabs of sound without diminishing their abstract mystical power.
IAN QUINN Read more Paul Kim reviews of Messiaen's piano music at musicweb-international.com/
Unlike several years ago, there are now many recordings of Messiaen's vast piano cycle Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant Jesus and Jacqueline Chew's account must rate among the top contenders. This is a fine balanced and well focused recording (perhaps a little light in the bass register which is often inherent with digital recordings) with great clarity and colour. Tempos are generally good throughout and capture Messiaen's complex time scales well. Perhaps Jacqueline Chew's absolute fortissimos dont have quite the shere brute force of Osborne or Aimard but they are nonetheless gripping and powerful. It would have been nice to read some more analytical sleeve notes rather than just Messiaen's score notes. Overall a well presented and engaging package.
Dame Gillian Weir and Olivier Messiaen
THE LEGENDARY MESSIAEN RECORDINGS REISSUED
"Our generation is the fortunate recipient of this remarkable testament to Gillian Weir's intellectual, spiritual and musical affinity with Messiaen's music. Messiaen's own recordings inspire us, but Gillian Weir's transport us to a seemingly ideal plane, where music, technique and organ sound blend into something greater than their parts."
[Organists' Review, February 1995]
In the year which marks the 10th Anniversary of the composer's death, Priory Records announces the reissue on its own label of Gillian Weir's legendary recordings of the complete organ works of Olivier Messiaen. When the set was originally issued by Collins Classics, critics all over the world were unanimous not only in their praise of the performances, but also in their respect for the fundamental musical affinity between performer and composer. "This corpus of organ music - incontrovertibly the most profound and significant of the twentieth century - has here found a recording which in itself is a landmark in the history of recorded sound" wrote one critic. "There is no doubt that Gillian Weir's recording of the complete Messiaen is the reference by which all other performances will now be judged", wrote another. BBC Music Magazine chose the set as one of its "Best CD's of 1994".
The complete cycle - which Messiaen personally urged Gillian Weir to commit to CD - was recorded on the famous organ of Aarhus Cathedral in Denmark during January and February 1994: the original recordings were made in association with BBC Radio 3.
Priory have remastered the recordings and made the series available separately for the first time: there are four single CD's, and one double CD, the latter including the Livre du Saint Sacrement. Dame Gillian herself has written booklet notes for the series, reflecting many decades of association with the composer and his organ music. The first CD [PRCD 921 - La Nativite du Seigneur, Le Banquet Celeste, L'Apparition de l'Eglise Eternelle] was issued on 29 October 2002 when Dame Gillian opened the 2002/3 Organ Recital series at London's Royal Festival Hall.
These are superb recordings and Priory have done a magnificent job in making them available again with excellent presentation enhanced by Mark Rowan-Hull's artwork inspired and based on Messiaen's music.
The fifth and sixth volume are combined into this final 2-CD set. The works include Livre du Sacrement, and three new additional works published after Messiaen's death:
• Offrande au Saint Sacrement
These three pieces were not in the original issue of this series, but were recently recorded for this re-release series on the same organ at Århus Cathedral.
This disc also contains an exceptional 30-page booklet that is becoming a notable hallmark of each disc in this series:
• Notes by the player herself, recognised as a Messiaen authority throughout the world, writer on his organ music in Faber's The Messiaen Companion, and and able to give unique insights into the way a performer thinks about the music;
• Reproductions of original paintings by Mark Rowan-Hull who is famous for translating into visual terms his vision of the organ music of Messiaen;
• Articles by distinguished scientists from Oxford and London Universities on the latest research into synaesthesia;
• Stoplists of the Århus organ as well as La Trinité, with descriptions of Messiaen's experiences and changes he desired on that instrument;
• List of organ works, when and if they were published and performed;
• Timeline of important milestone's in Messiaen's life.
“Gillian Weir's cycle remains the best of all, and she, playing the marvellous Frobenius instrument at Århus, brings that special spaciousness and intensity to the Livre that distinguishes her cycle as a whole... It is, quite simply, one of the finest organ recordings ever made.”
Arnold Whittall, October 2004 Awards issue of Gramophone
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