Author Topic: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)  (Read 64448 times)

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Offline Maciek

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #20 on: January 04, 2008, 08:52:07 AM »
Me too! :D



Wait a minute... you were saying?

Drasko

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #21 on: January 04, 2008, 11:20:48 AM »
Wait a minute... you were saying?

Doesn't it show? ;D

Offline Maciek

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #22 on: January 04, 2008, 12:17:41 PM »
The pun-packed title of one of his works springs to mind too (see above). ;)

(Seriously though: I agree. I may have never chuckled but the 5th mvt of Turangalila is an excellent example!)
« Last Edit: January 04, 2008, 12:19:23 PM by Maciek »

Offline MishaK

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #23 on: January 04, 2008, 01:26:47 PM »
Interesting about the claims about no humour in his music, perhaps it's more subtle to the keen listener? Dunno, but I find several things quite hysterial and have laughed out loud listening to his stuff numerous times, it's just bubbling with life, spirituality, invention, joy and there is humour & fun there too no doubt about that...the 5th movement of Turangalila springs to mind, or the piano piece Fantaisie burlesque, and many other moments have either made me smile or chuckle, there is a whole range of emotion I get from his stuff...i certainly wouldn't describe his music as arid, humourless or joyless; quite the contrary.

I agree. Just about anything where he quotes birdsong is very playful and full of humor.

Kullervo

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #24 on: January 04, 2008, 08:47:20 PM »
I agree. Just about anything where he quotes birdsong is very playful and full of humor.

He probably would have disagreed.

Offline MishaK

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #25 on: January 04, 2008, 08:50:12 PM »
He probably would have disagreed.

I don't think you're right about that.

Symphonien

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #26 on: January 04, 2008, 09:11:55 PM »
The pun-packed title of one of his works springs to mind too (see above). ;)

Éclairs sur l’eau de l’Aa. ;D

Kullervo

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #27 on: January 04, 2008, 09:14:19 PM »
I don't think you're right about that.

Maybe. In everything I've read about him and in his interviews he came off as a very boring man.

Offline Karhu

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #28 on: January 05, 2008, 03:26:05 AM »
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

Latry´s organ set is excellent. There are some more exciting recordings but Messiaen`s musical ideas are very well represented by Latry. I have heard Latry live only once, his improvisations were unforgettable. 

Offline 71 dB

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #29 on: January 05, 2008, 11:15:06 AM »
Messiaen is one composer I don't get at all. I borrowed again his Turangalila-Symphony (Esa-Pekka Salonen). The music is very chaotic, noisy and clanky. I don't see any point in anything. Maybe this is about testing orchestral sound effects?

The twofer set includes Lutoslawski's Symphony No. 3 & Les Espaces du Sommeil. I don't enjoy these works either. In fact this twofer made me shudder post war classical music when I borrowed it the first time years ago.
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Offline Brewski

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #30 on: January 05, 2008, 11:43:39 AM »
The music is very chaotic, noisy and clanky.

OK, I'll buy that, but some ears hear those as positive attributes!  It's also music filled with rapture.

The twofer set includes Lutoslawski's Symphony No. 3 & Les Espaces du Sommeil. I don't enjoy these works either. In fact this twofer made me shudder post war classical music when I borrowed it the first time years ago.

Well then...on to other postwar composers.  No need to like either one.

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Offline The new erato

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #31 on: January 05, 2008, 11:47:26 AM »
Messiaen is one composer I don't get at all. I borrowed again his Turangalila-Symphony (Esa-Pekka Salonen). The music is very chaotic, noisy and clanky. I don't see any point in anything. Maybe this is about testing orchestral sound effects?
I very much agree but for the description of the music which i find boring, kitschy and vulgar. But I intend to try and to try again...

The twofer set includes Lutoslawski's Symphony No. 3 & Les Espaces du Sommeil. I don't enjoy these works either. In fact this twofer made me shudder post war classical music when I borrowed it the first time years ago.
Here I don't agree. But I admit its been some time since I've listened to Lutoslawski. Need to rectify that!

Offline MDL

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #32 on: January 05, 2008, 02:56:50 PM »
I've never really understood the idea of "humour" in music. All those supposedly witty bits of Haydn and Mozart just curl up and die when I listen to them (yes, it's my failing, obviously). I think the Russians cornered the market. You can't get wittier than Prokofiev and nobody does sardonic gallows humour like Shostakovich. But back to the subject at hand - the last movement of Turangalila has to be one of the most deliriously happy stretches of music ever written. Does that count as humour? I'd say so.

Offline duncan

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #33 on: February 16, 2008, 05:06:40 AM »
Maybe. In everything I've read about him and in his interviews he came off as a very boring man.

There was an interesting interview with pianist Peter Hill on BBC Radio 3's Music Matters today, possibly available via Listen Again.  Hill says that Messiaen was very funny and had a keen sense of the ridiculous, even about his use of birdsong.   

I'm not an uncritical fan, but I love the Vingt Regards and very much enjoyed hearing the great Pierre-Laurent Aimard play them in London earlier this week. 
« Last Edit: February 16, 2008, 09:10:19 AM by duncan »

Greta

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #34 on: February 28, 2008, 10:21:00 PM »
I won't lie - Messiaen is not necessarily easy to encounter at first. I had trouble sorting out what was going on myself until I listened to many of his different works and got to understand his style, and also read about what his goals were in composition.

So, at our college they will perform the Oiseaux...which doesn't include my instrument, so I get to watch instead of play. My friends playing are passing around a recording, for most of the people playing this is perhaps their first encounter with Messiaen. And when they put headphones to the ear, there are some rather shocked and horrified faces! Besides it being a difficult piece, they just have trouble finding understandable music in it to grasp onto.

I wonder if after the rehearsal process, where they'll really get to know the piece and more about Messiaen, if they'll come to like it a bit - I think maybe, they will.

Humor is definitely a big element, and just general quirkiness....there are these often irreverent and somehow wandering percussion and woodwinds he has going on, and his orchestration is most unique indeed. He favors these bright, organ-like chords with almost garish harmonic colors, especially the way he scores the brass.

I think personally Turangalila is a very accessible work of his and a good starting place, though it depends on your individual taste...it is so wide-eyed and heady that while enormously fun, it can become a bit of overload.

Lately I am getting to know his Des Canyons aux Etoiles (From the Canyons to the Stars), and really am liking it, it is honestly an extremely beautiful work, to me very visual. It's quite far from Turangalila - much more introspective and transparently scored, focused on primarily the piano and only a few instruments at a time.

In the middle of this long work, I found one of the most enjoyable and humorous bits I have had the pleasure to hear from Messiaen yet - the Appel Interstellaire (Interstellar Call), for solo horn - which could almost stand alone (and surely has at many horn recitals) as it is so engaging and colorfully written. There are many unique effects he gets from the horn - the most fun being a wolf howl - and alternations of flowing lines and urgent blats that I assume would be "starry" language.  :D In fact, color me crazy, please do, but I get from this piece three distinct characters - the star with attitude (the loud, rambunctious one who begins), the wolf who answers, and the contemplative star, who takes the thoughtful, noble, singing lines.

I haven't gotten to know the Vingt Regards yet, perhaps soon...I also want to explore the La Transfiguration more, I thought it amazing the once I've heard it.

Offline MDL

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #35 on: February 29, 2008, 02:18:03 AM »
La Transfiguration is amazing. I've somehow managed to collect all five recordings. I didn't mean to; I just kept on stumbling across yet another one going cheap or second hand. It's being performed later this year in the Royal Festival Hall.

Hector

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #36 on: February 29, 2008, 06:45:03 AM »
Messiaen, piece of piss. What's not to understand? Like, OK a different matter.

He was very, very, very(very - again) Catholic, poor sod!

His religion permeates his work. A drawback, a hindrance to enjoyment? Perhaps.

Try his greateast influence, Koechlin.

Now there is a composer with a few quirks.

He wrote a 'Seven Stars Symphony.'

Oh, what Heavenly Bodies would they be, one thinks? How about Hollywoodian Heavenly Bodies? Great.

Better still, 'The Jungle Book.' Terrific. Segerstam's disc is cheap and complete 'cause you ain't gonna hear this in concert!

Ephemerid

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #37 on: February 29, 2008, 07:17:35 AM »
Just downloaded his Illuminations of the Beyond with Simon Rattle conducting.  Looking forward to giving it a closer listen tonight and over the weekend. 

Messiaen is a tough nut to crack but a few months ago I found my way into most of the music I've acquired.  I've been well rewarded for the effort-- now that I'm "in" I can explore it more easily. 

Vignt Regards is still one I struggle with, but I can make out his own very unique language now & he's one of my favourite composers now.

As far as the titles, the symbolism and such, I "get it" only in a very general sense.  Maybe I'm doing the composer an injustice, but for the most part (at least right now in these early stages) I tend to ignore the titles & symbolism & extra-musical aspects & listen to it primarily on a strictly musical level (and what I'm getting out of it on a purely personal level).  Maybe those extra-musical associations will come later, but it doesn't bother me. 


paulb

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #38 on: February 29, 2008, 08:04:44 AM »
Just downloaded his Illuminations of the Beyond with Simon Rattle conducting.  Looking forward to giving it a closer listen tonight and over the weekend. 

Messiaen is a tough nut to crack but a few months ago I found my way into most of the music I've acquired.  I've been well rewarded for the effort-- now that I'm "in" I can explore it more easily. 

Vignt Regards is still one I struggle with, but I can make out his own very unique language now & he's one of my favourite composers now.

As far as the titles, the symbolism and such, I "get it" only in a very general sense.  Maybe I'm doing the composer an injustice, but for the most part (at least right now in these early stages) I tend to ignore the titles & symbolism & extra-musical aspects & listen to it primarily on a strictly musical level (and what I'm getting out of it on a purely personal level).  Maybe those extra-musical associations will come later, but it doesn't bother me. 



This is a  very very good post.
"tough nut'. Don't break your teeth, there's nothing inside the nut once you *crack* it.
 *Illuminatiosn of THE BEYOND*  ::) ??? :D :D lol
just the names of his titles is enough to keep me far away.
Sorry been there/done that with Messiaen.

Ephemerid

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #39 on: February 29, 2008, 08:18:59 AM »
This is a  very very good post.
"tough nut'. Don't break your teeth, there's nothing inside the nut once you *crack* it.
 *Illuminatiosn of THE BEYOND*  ::) ??? :D :D lol
just the names of his titles is enough to keep me far away.
Sorry been there/done that with Messiaen.
But that's my whole point-- I don't much pay attention at this stage to the titles, so that hardly bothers me.  But then I've rarely ever done that anyway-- whether I'm listening to Vivaldi's Four Seasons, Beethoven's sixth symphony, Debussy's Preludes, or whatever, I don't generally make any extra-musical connections (images, concepts, etc.).  Later, after the fact, that might be informative, but it doesn't necessarily inform me during the act of listening-- that's where I bring in my own meaning into play.

Messiaen could write a piece called 12 meditations on the epiphany of the glorious ressurection of the mystical cabbages of God LOL or he could call it Symphony No. 3 -- I couldn't care less becuase I'm more interest in the sounds that are happening than the titles.  Everything (for me) is subordinate to the sounds, not the other way round, so titles don't dissuade me from a work.  You know, all that business about judging books by their cover, etc.
« Last Edit: February 29, 2008, 08:21:21 AM by just josh »

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