Author Topic: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)  (Read 64444 times)

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Offline Brewski

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #40 on: February 29, 2008, 08:47:12 AM »
Here is a good review in today's New York Times of Des canyons aux étoiles, which I heard Wednesday night.  Amazing that this difficult, lengthy (100 minutes) score was done so beautifully by a group of students (which not incidentally, is another comment on the increasing skills of young musicians these days). 

Anyway, a fascinating piece, with some of the most unusual sounds I've heard in Messiaen's output.  It's quite spare and transparent, more like chamber music, and is absolutely filled with different bird sounds.

--Bruce
Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.
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Symphonien

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #41 on: February 29, 2008, 03:32:15 PM »
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.

LOL at that title! Seems exactly like typical Messiaen. ;D

But anyway, I do agree with you there. I'm not a religious person myself, and I don't necessarily understand or agree with the titles of all his pieces and how they relate to the music - but I do certainly enjoy the music itself. Exceptions to this however, for me anyway, are pieces like Oiseaux Exotiques or Catalogue d'Oiseaux which I can understand because they both make heavy use of birdsong.
« Last Edit: February 29, 2008, 03:36:40 PM by Symphonien »

Renfield

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #42 on: June 23, 2008, 01:39:57 PM »
Here is a good review in today's New York Times of Des canyons aux étoiles, which I heard Wednesday night.  Amazing that this difficult, lengthy (100 minutes) score was done so beautifully by a group of students (which not incidentally, is another comment on the increasing skills of young musicians these days). 

Anyway, a fascinating piece, with some of the most unusual sounds I've heard in Messiaen's output.  It's quite spare and transparent, more like chamber music, and is absolutely filled with different bird sounds.

--Bruce

I just came back from a performance of that very piece by the mind-blowingly accomplished Ensemble InterContemporain under Susanna Mälkki, which lived up to its reputation every step of the proverbial way from the canyons to the firmament.

The performance was part of the Athens Festival, in the Odeon of Herodes Atticus (the "Herodeon"); and beyond the great acoustics, fascinating was the natural punctuation of the early parts of the score (before the sun had set) with real birdcalls from the surrounding trees!

I wonder what Messiaen would've thought. 8)


Quite a magical night, then, and a fantastic first impression of Messiaen's music for me.

The only weak link was the pianist, who - instead of being Pierre-Laurent Aimard, like in their recording of the piece - was some Greek fellow who, even thought not bad, was sadly nowhere near Aimard's level. But he played his part adequately; no complaints. ;)

pjme

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #43 on: June 23, 2008, 02:06:04 PM »
Messiaen, piece of piss. What's not to understand? Like, OK a different matter.



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!

Segerstam's 'Livre de la Jungle " is NOT complete. It lacks the earliest written parts : Trois poèmes op. 18 : Berceuse phoque ( Seal lullaby), Chanson de nuit dans la jungle (Night song in the jungle) and Chant de Kala Nag (Song of Kala Nag - the elephant).

Both David Zinman's (Berlin Radio SO) ( RCA)and Stuart Bedford's ( Montpellier PhO)( Actes Sud) are complete

For Koechlin : check Heinz Holliger recordings on Hänssler Classics with the Stuttgart Radio SO! Let's hope he will record the symphonies now!

As for Messiaen : his faith was his inspiration. Where did you read that Koechlin was his greatest influence??
He admired one of his teachers, Maurice Emmanuel, the composer Paul Dukas, Debussy and Stravinsky....

P.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2008, 11:59:27 PM by pjme »

Offline Marc

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #44 on: June 23, 2008, 04:06:00 PM »
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.

*Illuminations 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.

As for Messiaen : his faith was his inspiration.

Yes. Like Bach. Like many others. Even in these so-called modern times.
I don't believe in their God, although ....??
Well, I believe in the existence of their God, because they created Him.
But certainly I think that this 'divine-inspired' music can be really great, although I personally believe that these composers were inspired by their own 'divinity', and their listeners were touched by that, and inspired by their own created 'divinity'.
Every believer has his/her own interpretation of the Word of the Almighty. Because every believer creates his/her own Almighty, in their own mind and imagination. The Almighty is just a mirror of each and everyone's individual personality.

You're all individuals!
Yes, we're all individuals!
You're all different!
Yes, we're all different!

I'm not....


Errr, anyway. I was having a laugh when I read that persons could not take Messiaen seriously, with him being that religious, and giving his compositions rather mystic titles. Well, if you do think works like that aren't worth listening to, then you must be a very lucky person. You can save yourself a lot of money, because you won't have to buy and listen to almost half (or even more) of the classical music that has been composed so far. What titles are those, all these Holy Masses (Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis ??? ;D), Magnificats, Salve Regina's, Requiems, I know that my Redeemer liveth, well .... whatever. Come on! Compositions, for instance, about the purity of the virginity of the Mother of the Son of the Almighty!? You must be joking in taking such music seriously! :P

And, for what it's worth, you can also skip the entire oeuvre (about 160 CD's) of Bach: Soli Deo Gloria.

Poor sod? ???
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pjme

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #45 on: June 23, 2008, 11:58:48 PM »
This thread urged me to take up Peter Hill's "Messiaen companion" (Faber & Faber / Amadeus Press 1994) again. Lots of inside information and details on Messiaen's personality.

 Articles  by George Benjamin, Yvonne Loriod ( Mrs.Messiaen) ,Jane Manning ,Pierre Boulez etc. 

P.

ps : Messiaen wrote little for the ondes Martenot : Turangalila has a solo part and so has Trois petites Liturgies.
Fêtes des belles eaux (1937) is an extended sextet for ondes, the large orchestra of "Saint François" has 3 ondes.
IIRC, a few small works for ondes Martenot - solo remain unpublished or are of lesser importance  - Hill mentiones two Monodies and music for a play, Oedipe....( ca 1938-1942)


Hector

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #46 on: June 24, 2008, 06:24:32 AM »
Segerstam's 'Livre de la Jungle " is NOT complete. It lacks the earliest written parts : Trois poèmes op. 18 : Berceuse phoque ( Seal lullaby), Chanson de nuit dans la jungle (Night song in the jungle) and Chant de Kala Nag (Song of Kala Nag - the elephant).

Both David Zinman's (Berlin Radio SO) ( RCA)and Stuart Bedford's ( Montpellier PhO)( Actes Sud) are complete

For Koechlin : check Heinz Holliger recordings on Hänssler Classics with the Stuttgart Radio SO! Let's hope he will record the symphonies now!

As for Messiaen : his faith was his inspiration. Where did you read that Koechlin was his greatest influence??
He admired one of his teachers, Maurice Emmanuel, the composer Paul Dukas, Debussy and Stravinsky....

P.


I thought it was and I'm sure that that was what it said on the box but I'll check.

Holliger is the one to get but Segerstam was so cheap.

I did not read it anywhere but it is clear that Koechlin and, to some extent, Tournemire influenced Messiaen just by listening to the music of these composers. The latter was, also, irredeemably religious.

I can imagine Stravinsky hating this music.

We have a Messiaenfest at the Proms this year for obvious reasons.

pjme

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #47 on: June 24, 2008, 07:05:25 AM »
In a very general sense, I think, one could state that Koechlin is a kind of "missing link" between Debussy and Messiaen.

But, afaik, one cannot say that Messiaen was directly influenced by Koechlin.

Messiaen definitely admired Tournemire as composer for the organ and, possibly, as a catholic.

P.

Offline Brewski

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #48 on: June 24, 2008, 07:49:27 AM »
I just came back from a performance of that very piece by the mind-blowingly accomplished Ensemble InterContemporain under Susanna Mälkki, which lived up to its reputation every step of the proverbial way from the canyons to the firmament.

The performance was part of the Athens Festival, in the Odeon of Herodes Atticus (the "Herodeon"); and beyond the great acoustics, fascinating was the natural punctuation of the early parts of the score (before the sun had set) with real birdcalls from the surrounding trees!

I wonder what Messiaen would've thought. 8)


Quite a magical night, then, and a fantastic first impression of Messiaen's music for me.

The only weak link was the pianist, who - instead of being Pierre-Laurent Aimard, like in their recording of the piece - was some Greek fellow who, even thought not bad, was sadly nowhere near Aimard's level. But he played his part adequately; no complaints. ;)

Somehow missed this, and thanks for posting.  I suspect Messiaen would have loved hearing this group (mind-blowingly accomplished indeed) perform Des canyons.  (And I'd hear them do just about anything.)  Your comment implies that this was your first live Messiaen experience...if so, you really had a great one.  Love the added bird calls...

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

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

Offline Brewski

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #49 on: October 06, 2008, 10:37:17 AM »
At Saint Thomas Church here in NYC, John Thomas is playing all of Messiaen's organ works on six consecutive Sunday afternoons.  (The first one, which I couldn't attend, was yesterday.)  Information here, along with program notes.

--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 #50 on: October 06, 2008, 11:39:09 AM »
Is that DG box any different to the old DG box?

Offline jowcol

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #51 on: October 09, 2008, 05:19:11 AM »
The two Messiaen works that have worked best for me at Le nativité du Seigneur (which is some of the coolest Organ music of the 20th Century) and his Preludes for Piano.

Le nativité has some very powerful atmospheric and emotional impact-- and also some pretty haunting lyricism. 

The Piano Preludes are also quite listenable- the second one (Chan de Extase) is really haunting and mysterious. It would not be out of place on the same program with the Debussy Preludes.

Both of these are earlier works-- not as hardcore as his later stuff, which I'm not always in the mood for.  I remember playing some of his later organ works out the window one Halloween and no kids came to our door.


One of the most interesting things about Messiaen is his association with muscial keys and color-- much like Scriabin.   Or course, the whole synesthesia thing would warrent another thread.

wjp
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lukeottevanger

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #52 on: October 09, 2008, 05:50:47 AM »
One of the most interesting things about Messiaen is his association with muscial keys and color-- much like Scriabin.   Or course, the whole synesthesia thing would warrent another thread.

With Messiaen it's not keys so much as particular chords, of the most complex type, that carry the (equally-complex) colour-associations. We've had (fascinating) threads on key-colour association before (it's a really interesting subject which isn't understood properly)....I'll try to dig one up.

lukeottevanger

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #53 on: October 09, 2008, 05:54:44 AM »
This one, for instance, though it's more about general associations than about colour specifically.

lukeottevanger

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #54 on: October 09, 2008, 05:56:20 AM »
...or this one, ditto...

Offline Catison

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #55 on: October 09, 2008, 09:57:31 AM »
This one, for instance, though it's more about general associations than about colour specifically.

If you watch the documentary The Chrystal Liturgy, he talks about these colors specifically.  He didn't expect propose that everyone should see the same colors, but that chords had a specific sound which could be analogous to color.  He specifically says he didn't have synthenesia.  He was just a rather odd guy.
-Brett

karlhenning

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #56 on: October 09, 2008, 10:00:53 AM »
Well, being rather odd isn't necessarily bad.

Offline Catison

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #57 on: October 09, 2008, 11:24:27 AM »
Well, being rather odd isn't necessarily bad.

Being rather odd myself, I would never suggest such a thing.
-Brett

Offline jowcol

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #58 on: October 09, 2008, 12:14:21 PM »
It is my understanding that Messiaen claimed not to have synesthesia, but used color to describe.

There is a decent overview here that talks about how Scriabin and Rimsky Korsakov both saw colors to music-- it was interesting that Rimsky coudl not see one key.

http://pages.sbcglobal.net/jameswierzbicki/synaesthesia.htm

FWIW-- I do have mild synesthesia-- so I can identify....



"If it sounds good, it is good."
Duke Ellington

Offline yoyoman_hey

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #59 on: November 29, 2008, 06:41:15 PM »
My university recently had a few performances for Messiaen's centenary, and I was fortunate enough to catch a performance of the Quator pour la fin du temps by some members of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra. Besides that I caught a wonderful organ recital of his Nativity suite and the Apparation de l'Eglise Eternelle that shook me to my bones. Definately someone whose music I intend to explore.

As far as the synesthesia, I agree that it is similar to programmatic information; interesting complement to the music and the composer's mind, but not essential to grasping (and more importantly, enjoying!) the music  :) . Judging from what little I have seen of Messiaen describing his compositional technique, I think he had either genuine synesthesia or at least a nifty colour-oriented method of building perfect pitch  :D

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