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Thread: Olivier Messiaen

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    Default Olivier Messiaen

    His religious organ music can be quite inaccessible, but this is a good place to start: it was an early work by Messiaen. Here it is played magnificently in Notre Dame by Olivier Latry.


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    Senior Member St Matthew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christabel View Post
    His religious organ music can be quite inaccessible, but this is a good place to start: it was an early work by Messiaen. Here it is played magnificently in Notre Dame by Olivier Latry.
    I beg to differ.

    Messiaen is always really great though

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    Quote Originally Posted by St Matthew View Post
    I beg to differ.

    Messiaen is always really great though
    You don't like the performance of Olivier Latry? What is it you 'beg to differ' about?

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    Senior Member tdc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christabel View Post
    What is it you 'beg to differ' about?
    I think St Matthew 'begs to differ' about the part of your quote they placed in bold - that his organ music can be quite inaccessible.

    I too had some initial struggles with Messiaen, but his music is starting to make more sense to me. I now find much of his work enjoyable and can hear it as in some ways an extension of impressionism.


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    Senior Member RICK RIEKERT's Avatar
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    A good starting point for anyone wishing to make Messiaen’s music more “accessible” through listening with knowledge and understanding is to read John Gillock's excellent "Performing Messiaen’s Organ Music: 66 Masterclasses". As he states in his Preface, “Although [the book] deals specifically with his compositions for organ, the principles that are revealed within them apply to all of Messiaen’s music”. Gillock is not only a gifted musician (Messiaen told an interviewer that Gillock could play his music better than he could) but a born teacher who succeeds admirably in making Messiaen’s music more accessible to a wider audience.

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    Senior Member norman bates's Avatar
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    lately I've been listening obsessively to Harawi. It's truly a fantastic work. I had already loved other vocal works of him but this could be my favorite I've heard. Just piano and voice but it's an otherworldly experience. His use of harmony is just unique.
    What time is the next swan?

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    My way into Messiaen's music was through his songs, such as the song cycle "Poemes pour Mi" (sung by Michelle Command), but also "Chants de Terre et de Ciel" (sung by Suzie LeBlanc), the mini-cantata "La Mort du Nombre" (LeBlanc, etc.), "Hawari" (sung by Jane Manning), and the orchestral version of "Poemes pour Mi" (sung by Françoise Pollet, with Pierre Boulez conducting the Cleveland Orchestra):

    https://www.amazon.com/Melodies-Mess...chelle+command
    https://www.amazon.com/Messiaen-Chan...+suzie+leblanc
    https://www.amazon.com/Messiaen-Hara...n+jane+manning
    https://www.amazon.com/Boulez-perfor...essiaen+boulez

    Back in the 1990s, a composer friend recommended this excellent box set to me, which served as another entry point into Messiaen:

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00119V4QS...523843405&sr=2

    Lately, I've been enjoying conductor Sylvain Cambreling's 8 CD box set of Messiaen's works for orchestra (though the more comprehensive Erato Messiaen box set is excellent too):

    https://www.amazon.com/Complete-Work...ain+Cambreling
    https://www.amazon.com/Messiaen-18CD...+chamber+music

    along with pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard's recording of "Vingt Regards sur L'Enfant-Jesus", & "Préludes" on DG:

    https://www.amazon.com/Vingt-Regards...essiaen+aimard

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBxtOjqlzYM

    So far, Messiaen's "Cataloque d'Oiseaux" has proved more challenging, though certain pieces stand out as little masterpieces, such as "Le Courlis cendré", & I like the way Helena Basilova plays it:



    As for Messiaen's chamber music, there are of course many excellent older versions of his "Quartet for the End of Time", but lately I've been enjoying these two recent recordings:

    https://www.amazon.com/Chamber-Works...+chamber+music
    https://www.amazon.com/Messiaen-Quat...+chamber+music

    I've yet to get to his opera, "Saint Françoise d'Assise", but hope to eventually.
    Last edited by Josquin13; Apr-16-2018 at 03:05.

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    Senior Member St Matthew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christabel View Post
    You don't like the performance of Olivier Latry? What is it you 'beg to differ' about?
    I beg to differ about your statement that Messiaen (in any situation) could be considered "inaccessible". I love this performance too, although I never made reference to it. The joy of the heavens is upon me whenever I hear a Messiaen work, he captures true spiritual enlightenment for me. Musically, he expanded on certain things from Debussy and Stravinsky but what he achieved is incomparable, his original work was influential on the whole world of post-war composers and beyond, for a reason

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