Author Topic: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)  (Read 99825 times)

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Offline Brewski

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #60 on: December 10, 2008, 09:45:11 AM »
Happy 100th birthday to Olivier Messiaen, wherever he is.  Haven't yet finalized my playlist for later, but I have a feeling it will include Éclairs sur l'au-delà (Illuminations of the Beyond) among others. 

Other people marking the day?  (Unfortunately his centenary is perhaps slightly shadowed by someone else's 100th birthday tomorrow... ;D)

--Bruce
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Offline timnehguy

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #61 on: January 29, 2009, 07:38:56 AM »
I've just recently discovered this forum, which I'm enjoying.  As soon as I found it, I headed for this Messiaen thread.  A year ago, I would have seen the name Messiaen and thought, "Another composer whose work I don't know."  I'm not sure when or how, but I recently discovered Messiaen's music, and  I cannot remember any art (music, literature, visual art) ever hitting me with the impact of Messiaen's music.  (In fact, it's because of Messiaen's music that I'm cruising classical music forums.)

I would like to respond to a few comments in this forum, first about the lack of humor.  Just two days ago, I was discussing the wonderful Crystal Liturgy DVD with a friend of mine, who remarked what a "funny guy" Messiaen was.  Two examples from the DVD:  as he is working with some students, he starts to sing a passage but pauses to apologize for his "composer's voice"; discussing birds that imitate other birds, he talks about a father bird that imitates another species to entertain his little ones.   In fact, the birds always seem to bring out the best (and funniest) in him and in his music.

As others have mentioned, it's hard to identify "a sense of humor" in music, but for me, it is easier to identify a sense of joy and fun, and I believe that joy and fun come through loud and clear in Messiaen's work, perhaps in the goofy excesses of the long works with an army of performers in which Messiaen seems to have thrown in everything but the kitchen sink (and, let me go back to check again, there may have been a kitchen sink somewhere).  To me, that's an example of a good influence of his religious beliefs at their best, along the lines of the Anglican children's hymn, "All things bright and beautiful."

With my literary background, I especially enjoy/appreciate his playfulness with language, from the title of the Turangalîla-Symphonie to the almost made up language of Harawi (which is probably my favorite of his works).

Messiaen's Roman Catholicism is the 800 lb. gorilla sitting on the keyboard.  He was Roman Catholic, his music was written for the greater glory of God, but in some ways, I think not being a member of his in-crowd helps me to appreciate his music more.  I don't go into it taking things for granted.  Messiaen might have said I am missing the whole point, but honestly, when I read his titles and certainly his commentaries, I wonder if even a very well informed devout Roman Catholic could get what Messiaen sees/hears in his work.  You can read his commentary on his Quartour pour la fin du temps, here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quatuor_pour_la_fin_du_temps and then download and listen to the music here, http://www.lunanova.org/podcasts/quatuor.mp3.  (Right click to download.)  Or, you might do better to listen to the music first.

But his Roman Catholicism is not based on guilt and gloom (as some Roman Catholic literary works are) but - again - on joy.  He did not write about the crucifixion of Jesus but about his nativity and transfiguration.  Even, perhaps especially, sex is a gift from God... assumedly heterosexual activity between two married people, but in his three works associated with the Tristan legend (Harawi, Turangalîla-Symphonie, Cinq rechants), he gets down and dirty at times.  (In another forum, someone said that after a particularly intense performance of Cinq rechants, everyone in the audience wanted to go out for a cigarette.) 

Messiaen is like the woman in Oklahoma: he cain't say no!  If it's good to view the child Jesus, then, doggone it, twenty views would be twenty times better!  Again, in the interviews from the Crystal Liturgy DVD, he speaks of perhaps the irony of writing such a rich, lush opera on the life of St. Francis, who embraced and celebrated poverty.  But, as Messiaen continues, his opera reflects the riches of the saint, who had a wealth of spiritual gifts, colors, and - oh, yes - birds... sounds as if Messiaen were talking about himself.

OK, this is quite long enough.  If you can endure more of my raving about Messiaen, check out an article I wrote:
http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1288530/olivier_messiaen_happy_100th_birthday.html?singlepage=true&cat=33

karlhenning

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #62 on: January 29, 2009, 09:00:49 AM »
Very interesting post, thank you. And welcome to GMG, Michael!

Offline Brewski

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #63 on: February 09, 2009, 01:54:35 PM »
Over the weekend I saw the DVD of La Liturgie de cristal, Oliver Mille's documentary on Messiaen, and it is terrific--highly recommended to anyone interested in the composer.  I see comments about it elsewhere here so I won't go on and on, but I will add that the roughly hour-long film has about an hour of extras, which are just as interesting as the film itself.  The photography is gorgeous, including some spectacular footage of Zion National Park, where he was inspired to write Des canyons aux étoiles.

--Bruce
"Do you realize that we're meteorites; almost as soon as we're born, we have to disappear?"

~Iannis Xenakis

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

karlhenning

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #64 on: February 09, 2009, 02:18:38 PM »
Curiously, Bruce, I was listening to the Quatuor just last night . . . .

Offline Brewski

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #65 on: February 09, 2009, 02:23:13 PM »
Curiously, Bruce, I was listening to the Quatuor just last night . . . .

 0:) 

I heard it by the Da Capo Chamber Players a few weeks ago.  It's the kind of piece I think everyone should hear say, once a year (like, e.g., Le Sacre).

--Bruce
"Do you realize that we're meteorites; almost as soon as we're born, we have to disappear?"

~Iannis Xenakis

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

Offline timnehguy

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #66 on: March 16, 2009, 03:22:31 PM »
Two or three posts up, there is my prolonged rave about Messiaen, so I'll try to be brief here... following up on the suggestion that everyone should hear the Quartet for the End of Time once a year. 

Everyone should hear it at least once.  I remember when I heard it last year, I was left almost gasping for breath, actually said aloud to myself, "Where has this music been all my life?"

ChamberNut

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #67 on: March 16, 2009, 05:40:48 PM »
Everyone should hear it at least once.  I remember when I heard it last year, I was left almost gasping for breath, actually said aloud to myself, "Where has this music been all my life?"

I agree there.  Heard it live, and it was an experience like none before.  There really is nothing quite like this piece.  I think there is something for everyone to like in this work (even though you may not enjoy all of it). 

Offline MDL

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #68 on: March 17, 2009, 12:11:50 AM »
Messiaen is like the woman in Oklahoma: he cain't say no! 


Quote of the week.  ;D


Offline timnehguy

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #69 on: May 19, 2009, 04:40:07 PM »
Thursday is the Feastday of the Ascension, forty days after Easter. Here are YouTube links for Messian's "L'Ascension" ("The Ascension"), composed in 1932-33. Messiaen described it as "4 Meditations for orchestra".

Orchestral version -
1. Majesté du Christ demandant sa gloire à son Père ("The majesty of Christ demanding its glory of the Father")
2. Alleluias sereins d’une âme qui désire le ciel ("Serene alleluias of a soul that longs for heaven")
3. Alleluia sur la trompette, alleluia sur la cymbale ("Alleluia on the trumpet, alleluia on the cymbal")
4. Prière du Christ montant vers son Père ("Prayer of Christ ascending towards his Father")

Organ version -
In 1933-34, Messiaen made a version for solo organ. The first, second and fourth movements are arrangements of the orchestral pieces, but Messiaen composed a new third movement, "Transports de joie d'une âme devant la gloire du Christ qui est la sienne" ("Ecstasies of a soul before the glory of Christ, which is its own glory"), usually just known as "Transports de joie."

Organ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yulKIfkrdRs
L'Ascension (1)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFrfAcTg3cw
L'Ascension (2)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEM2QuNkD5I
L'Ascension (3)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8X9xw5T_TYs
L'Ascension (4)


Orchestra

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcJydG8lejY
L'Ascension (1)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFBZl3ABG9E
L'Ascension (2)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMiJ5bpBWh8
L'Ascension (3)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDYw8vuZllQ
L'Ascension (4)

See http://twitter.com/MessiaenProject

Offline timnehguy

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #70 on: June 13, 2009, 03:24:09 PM »
Two new videos online -

http://www.ktotv.com/cms/videos/fiche_video.html?idV=00041254&vl=video_par_emission
DOCUMENTAIRE: LE CHARME DES IMPOSSIBILITÉS
78 mn
Le "Quatuor pour la fin du temps" est une oeuvre musicale en huit mouvements écrite par Olivier Messiaen alors qu'il était en détention au camp de Görlitzt durant la 2ème guerre mondiale.


http://www.veoh.com/browse/videos/category/music/watch/v18597352CdyjKfdY#

French composer/organist Olivier Messiaen (1909-1992)improvises at the organ of the Paris Church of the Sainte-Trinité, where he was organist for more than six decades. This video is taken from a DVD that is out-of-print. (There have been excerpts from this on YouTube for a while.) 27 min.

Offline timnehguy

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #71 on: June 22, 2009, 10:40:43 AM »
Last year, Southbank Centre's centenary celebration of Olivier Messiaen included three online videos of what they said would be a series of four. I emailed them about the fourth and was told that it is the Harrison Birtwistle video, which is not in the same format as the other three.

Anyway, here are three little mini-documentaries that will give you a good sense of Messiaen's standing today. Bravo, Soutbank Centre:

Messiaen - a life in colour
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yX5pA3TVFsU

Messiaen - a life in colour" part 2
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8MG2eILPcJc

Messiaen - a life in colour: part 3
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iedSiq7WihE

Harrison Birtwistle in conversation
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPGZp-3KWwQ

Offline Brewski

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #72 on: July 29, 2009, 08:37:46 AM »
Earlier this week at this year's Verbier Festival, there was a very fine performance of the Turangalîla-Symphonie with Charles Dutoit and the Festival Orchestra, Jean-Yves Thibaudet (piano) and Valérie Hartmann-Claverie (ondes martenot).

It was taped on July 26, and is available here.  Well worth viewing for anyone who likes the piece, or is curious to actually watch it performed.

--Bruce
"Do you realize that we're meteorites; almost as soon as we're born, we have to disappear?"

~Iannis Xenakis

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

Offline MDL

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #73 on: August 01, 2009, 11:34:32 AM »
Earlier this week at this year's Verbier Festival, there was a very fine performance of the Turangalîla-Symphonie with Charles Dutoit and the Festival Orchestra, Jean-Yves Thibaudet (piano) and Valérie Hartmann-Claverie (ondes martenot).

It was taped on July 26, and is available here.  Well worth viewing for anyone who likes the piece, or is curious to actually watch it performed.

--Bruce

I've never heard of Medici TV before. What an amazing website. Had a quick dip in the performance (the other half is cooking steaks at the moment) and it looks impressive. I'll have to come back to this later. Thanks for posting.

Offline Brewski

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #74 on: August 01, 2009, 11:41:39 AM »
I've never heard of Medici TV before. What an amazing website. Had a quick dip in the performance (the other half is cooking steaks at the moment) and it looks impressive. I'll have to come back to this later. Thanks for posting.

I suspect you will be floored--not necessarily by the Messiaen, but by the great stuff available (and as often as you want to replay it, too).  If I were carping I would politely suggest a little more contemporary music, but never mind, I'll shut up.  ;D

--Bruce
"Do you realize that we're meteorites; almost as soon as we're born, we have to disappear?"

~Iannis Xenakis

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

ChamberNut

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #75 on: August 25, 2009, 08:51:00 AM »
All this talk about the Quatuor pour la fin du temps, or as Dana puts it "String Quartet pour la fin du temps" ;D, has made me wonder:

Has this piece ever been orchestrated?  It would seem like an ideal work for orchestra, although I'm totally happy with the original as is.

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #76 on: October 10, 2009, 10:10:47 AM »
Over the years, I've given Messiaen some occasional attention; today I listened to the piano disc w/ Angela Hewitt quoted below (from the listening thread - a response to a recording posted by Henk) - a box of orchestral works on Hannsler was also mentioned - just have one other CD w/ the Quartet as stated below.

Last year was the 100th anniversary of his birth, and I'm sure a number of 'boxes' etc. have been released; so, this might be a good time to update this thread concerning purchase recommendations - all suggestions appreciated - thanks!  :D


 

Disappointing, and badly recorded.


Quote
Henk - boy, that Aimard set got some excellent 5* reviews on Amazon, including a superlative one by Scott Morrison! 

Just received a package from BRO of Hyperion CDs, including the one above w/ Angela Hewitt playing Messiaen - listening to the earlier Preludes at the moment and enjoying.

Messiaen has been 'on & off' my radar screen - use to have some organ discs, but could not really tolerate the music (probably just me?) - but would like to explore his orchestral & piano compositions - except for this new CD, I just own a disc w/ the Quartet for the End of Time - so 'wide open' for suggestions!  :)

Offline UB

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #77 on: December 16, 2009, 09:30:27 AM »
From Alex Ross' New Yorker blog

"According to Chicago Classical Review, the Rembrandt Chamber Players sent out a survey asking subscribers what work they most wanted to hear, and the winner was … Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time.”


Love the work but they must have a very unusual set of subscribers.


I am not in the entertainment business. Harrison Birtwistle 2010

Offline Catison

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #78 on: December 17, 2009, 01:39:08 PM »
From Alex Ross' New Yorker blog

"According to Chicago Classical Review, the Rembrandt Chamber Players sent out a survey asking subscribers what work they most wanted to hear, and the winner was … Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time.”


Love the work but they must have a very unusual set of subscribers.

Or they all just read Ross's book, which gushes about the work.
-Brett

Offline MDL

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Re: Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
« Reply #79 on: March 13, 2010, 04:24:04 AM »
Has anybody heard the new Concertgebouw recording of Chronochromie? I've already got (what I believe to be) the only two complete performances (Dorati/BBCSO and Boulez CO) and an excerpt from Rosbaud's SWR performance, so I don't really need a new one, but I always like hearing this band in modern music.