Author Topic: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)  (Read 64293 times)

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Offline Brewski

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Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« on: January 03, 2008, 10:35:19 AM »
Apparently no Messiaen thread here, so here's a concert announcement to get the ball rolling.  I just found out about this series by organist Gail Archer, who will play a series of recitals starting next week in six different churches in New York.  The series begins with La Nativité du Seigneur on January 13 and ends with Livre du Saint Sacrement on May 29.

Then I found a huge listing of concerts all over the world on this site, maintained by Boston University.  For his centenary, there are many, many interesting concerts planned.  I'll be hearing one here in February: the Turangalīla-Symphonie at Carnegie Hall, with David Robertson and the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, with pianist Nicolas Hodges and Cynthia Millar on the ondes martenot.

Other fans, favorites, recordings?

--Bruce
Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.
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Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

Offline Brewski

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2008, 11:56:37 AM »
quartet for the end of time (rca victor - stoltzman et al)
turangalila (DG - chung)
poems pour mi & sept haikai (DG - boulez)
et exspecto resurrectionem & chronochromie (DG - boulez)

Of those you mention, I have the ones above, and enjoy them all a lot.  I'm very curious about the Latry organ set.  He's doing a Messiaen recital at Disney Hall in a month, which I'd love to hear.

--Bruce
Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.
     ~ Gustav Mahler

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

Offline Maciek

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2008, 11:59:42 AM »
Apparently no Messiaen thread here

Wha....!? I can hardly believe it! Thank goodness you filled that gaping hole, Bruce!!!

Offline Brewski

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2008, 12:03:22 PM »
Wha....!? I can hardly believe it! Thank goodness you filled that gaping hole, Bruce!!!

 ;D  It was rather shocking, wasn't it, especially given the big birthday year.  ;D

Are you a fan as well?

--Bruce
Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.
     ~ Gustav Mahler

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

karlhenning

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2008, 12:14:21 PM »
Whenever I hear the ondes Martenot, I somehow find myself reaching for popcorn . . . .

Offline The new erato

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2008, 12:40:45 PM »
Very good comment karlhenning!

But seriously: The Turangalila is performed here in Bergen on the 30th (I think) of January. I will be there in the hope of finally getting a handle on a composer I neither understand nor likes. 
« Last Edit: January 03, 2008, 02:54:53 PM by erato »

karlhenning

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2008, 12:44:33 PM »
One of my favorite live music events when I was in upstate New York, was hearing Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum live at the Eastman Theater.

I once picked up a recording of the piece, but it had nothing of the depth or impact of that live event.

Offline Brewski

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2008, 12:47:41 PM »
Like many other things, it is definitely a work that benefits from being heard live.  Please report back!

(Just saw Karl's post, which also says it, in a different way.)

--Bruce
Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.
     ~ Gustav Mahler

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

Offline MishaK

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2008, 01:15:30 PM »
Then I found a huge listing of concerts all over the world on this site, maintained by Boston University.  For his centenary, there are many, many interesting concerts planned.  I'll be hearing one here in February: the Turangalīla-Symphonie at Carnegie Hall, with David Robertson and the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, with pianist Nicolas Hodges and Cynthia Millar on the ondes martenot.

Man, not a single event in Chicago. That stinks. And I just found the perfect birthday present for Olivier.

Kullervo

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2008, 02:56:35 PM »
I like Vingt Regards, Quartet for the Umpteenth Time, and a few others, but Messiaen is normally too repetitive and lacking in humor for me. The last movement of Ex Expecto is hilarious, but I doubt it was intentional. :)

Even so, I think he was an important figure if only for the fact that so many of his students went on to be major figures in music.

Offline Sydney Grew

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2008, 04:32:54 PM »
. . . Messiaen is normally too repetitive and lacking in humo{u}r for me.

Is it not curious? - we on the other hand find that the serious and profound is always to be preferred to the comic; even in Shakespeare may we add. Perhaps that is simply our philosophical nature but it has been with us from birth. We have no need to be amused.

As for repetition, we know that it annoyed Schoenberg too. In fact his abhorrence of repetition lies at the root of his twelve-note system does it not? But to us on the contrary repetition has been one of the linch-pins of musical form ever since the middle ages. The more repetition the merrier! We need only turn to the waltzes of Johann Strauss to understand that principle. But although they are cheerful even they are thankfully not exactly humorous or amusing are they.

To return to Messiaen: his supreme masterpiece is of course St. Francis of Assisi of 1983. As in the case of Mahler's Eighth, we would advise people to steep themselves in the text - Messiaen's own - before listening to a note of the music whether in the opera house or in their own homes.
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Kullervo

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2008, 06:10:56 PM »
Is it not curious? - we on the other hand find that the serious and profound is always to be preferred to the comic; even in Shakespeare may we add. Perhaps that is simply our philosophical nature but it has been with us from birth. We have no need to be amused.

As for repetition, we know that it annoyed Schoenberg too. In fact his abhorrence of repetition lies at the root of his twelve-note system does it not? But to us on the contrary repetition has been one of the linch-pins of musical form ever since the middle ages. The more repetition the merrier! We need only turn to the waltzes of Johann Strauss to understand that principle. But although they are cheerful even they are thankfully not exactly humorous or amusing are they.

To return to Messiaen: his supreme masterpiece is of course St. Francis of Assisi of 1983. As in the case of Mahler's Eighth, we would advise people to steep themselves in the text - Messiaen's own - before listening to a note of the music whether in the opera house or in their own homes.


I probably should have said that it isn't that Messiaen's music lacks h-u-m-o-r (the correct spelling as I learned it in school in the U.S.), but rather that Messiaen himself lacked any semblance of it (a trait you and he share).

Repetition is important for music — even variation is a form of repetition, but outright repetition without any variation of musical material is just irritating (see for example: several passages in Turangalīla-Symphonie). Anyone with a decent memory should find it insulting.

But why should I argue with you? You're just a nobody that uses the anonymity of the internet to put on airs of sophistication.  ::)

Offline Maciek

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2008, 02:33:59 AM »
Are you a fan as well?

Definitely. One of my very favorite composers.

Offline MDL

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2008, 03:09:56 AM »
There's a huge series of concerts at the South Bank Centre here in London. I must get round to buying a few tickets when I've paid off my Xmas debts. Alongside the usual Turangalilas and Et Expectos, they're doing La Transfiguration, the first Messiaen work that I heard and fell in love with; I've got five recordings of it, but I've never sat through the whole thing in one go, so that should be an experience.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2008, 09:47:53 AM by MDL »

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2008, 03:27:04 AM »
Nobody has yet mentioned the Trois petites Liturgies de la Presence Divine, which I first heard live at a performance in a church in Wells, and at which my friend, John Morton plated the Ondes Martenot. It was this piece that first turned me on to Messiaen, and has remained one of my most memorable concert experiences.

I also love Turangalila, which I have heard live several times, and which never fails in the concert hall. I confess, however, that there are still a good many of his works that I have yet to get to know. Maybe this centenary year will turn out to be a good one to do so.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2008, 03:31:32 AM »
h-u-m-o-r (the correct spelling as I learned it in school in the U.S.),



Though, of course, if you had gone to school in the UK, you would have learned h-u-m-o-u-r.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Brewski

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #16 on: January 04, 2008, 07:43:42 AM »
I like Vingt Regards, Quartet for the Umpteenth Time, and a few others, but Messiaen is normally too repetitive and lacking in humor for me.

Actually I can well identify with this view.  Messiaen's repetitive structures probably drive many people nuts.  (Wasn't it Beethoven who was the first to suggest that two repetitions of a figure should be the maximum?)  Sometimes I hear Messiaen communing with or even anticipating minimalists.  And I can't argue with the "no humor" charge, either, since I can't think of a single work by him that might be called playful or ironic.  He's like the super-sober friend whom you just can't tease, ever.

To me listening to Messiaen is like being near some material of molten intensity--like holding a white-hot star in your hands.  You don't have much reason or logic for doing so, but you are riveted by the sensation.

--Bruce
Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.
     ~ Gustav Mahler

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

karlhenning

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #17 on: January 04, 2008, 07:45:02 AM »
Actually I can well identify with this view.  Messiaen's repetitive structures probably drive many people nuts.

Certainly that was the case, Bruce, with one neighbor who subsequently was obsessed with the idea of the smoldering ashes of Western civilization . . . .

Offline MishaK

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #18 on: January 04, 2008, 07:52:17 AM »
Nobody has yet mentioned the Trois petites Liturgies de la Presence Divine, which I first heard live at a performance in a church in Wells, and at which my friend, John Morton plated the Ondes Martenot. It was this piece that first turned me on to Messiaen, and has remained one of my most memorable concert experiences.

Lovely work. I heard it with Rattle in Berlin a few years ago. Messiaen at his best. Though I am very, very fond of Ascension, Vingt Regards, Quatuor pour la fin du temps and Catalogue d'Oiseaux.

Drasko

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #19 on: January 04, 2008, 08:21:12 AM »
I love eclairs

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