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Classical - Released September 27, 2019 | Alpha

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Paavo Järvi inaugurates his new contract as conductor of the Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich with a programme devoted to Messiaen. Alpha Classics will accompany this extremely promising combination: ‘I’ve always admired French music very much. (...) I think Messiaen is the most original voice, someone absolutely unique. You need only listen for three seconds to a work by Messiaen to be sure that it is by him. His style is so clear, so unmistakable. In his two early works Les Offrandes oubliées and Le Tombeau resplendissant, religion and mysticism play an important role. If you listen carefully, you will notice how a harmony is continually transformed, so that you can never predict what sound will come next. But Messiaen’s harmonic language is not experimental: it produces an inevitable meaning, and you get the feeling that the chord sequence can be that way and no other. Music is a language of its own; music begins where words leave off.’ (Excerpt from an interview with Paavo Järvi) © Alpha Classics

Quartets - Released November 30, 2018 | Mirare

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Classical - Released September 14, 2018 | La Dolce Volta

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4F de Télérama - Grand Prix de l'Académie Charles Cros - Choc de Classica

Classical - Released August 9, 2019 | Naxos

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Olivier Messiaen’s Méditations sur le Mystère de la Sainte Trinité grew out of improvisations that he performed at the inauguration of the rebuilt organ of La Trinité in 1967. It became his largest cycle to date and marks Messiaen’s first use of ‘communicable language’, in which each letter of the alphabet is assigned a unique pitch and note-value, thereby translating text into music. Haunting harmonies, awe-inspiring monumental grandeur and the deepest profundity of expression are contrasted by the innocence of birdsong with the recurrent call of the yellowhammer, a tranquil voice from nature amid kaleidoscopic Biblical themes. © Naxos

Classical - Released March 30, 2018 | PentaTone

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Can the title of a work influence the way that performers approach it? At any rate, Messiaen's two great piano masterpieces have titles which suggest very different musical experiences. Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus (1944) is steeped in religious fervour and contemplation, while Catalogue d’oiseaux (1956–1958) is a work with rather more of an ornithological bent. Indeed, the composer himself said to Claude Samuel: "I tried to render exactly the song of a bird typical of a given region, surrounded by its neighbours in that habitat, as well as expressions of its song at different times of day and night." But then he goes on to describe a more expressive and poetic side of the work. Birdsong, effectively, "bears in its harmonic and rhythmic material the scents and colours of the country in which the bird lives", and it is hardly possible to "exactly" transcribe the improbable rapidity of birdsong for any human instrument. One might have thought that "sonic reproduction" was the key idea behind the Catalogue d'oiseaux, but in the finished work, what we are listening to is a great composer, a master of innovative structures, finding a stunning range of piano sounds. In other words, in spite of its name, the Catalogue d’oiseaux is not a musical documentary, but rather a series of musical poems exploring birds and other wonders of nature – in France, as that is where all these delightful flying things happened to be found. Pierre-Laurent Aimard gives a reading of the (diabolical) score which is both super-precise and rigorous, and yet so poetic and inspired that one has the impression that he is taking dictation directly from the birds themselves. © SM/Qobuz

Classical - Released June 3, 2014 | Ondine

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With the growing number of performances and recordings, Olivier Messiaen's Turangalîla-symphonie has become his best-known orchestral work and something of a hit, if such an expansive and influential work can be narrowly categorized as such. Cast in ten movements for piano, ondes Martenot (an instrument similar to the theremin), and large orchestra, with many recurring themes and motives, Turangalîla-symphonie is a cyclic meditation inspired by Indian mysticism, as suggested by the composite title, which Messiaen translated as, "All at the same time song of love, hymn to joy, time, movement, rhythm, life, and death." This performance by Hannu Lintu and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, featuring Angela Hewitt on piano and Valérie Hartmann-Claverie on ondes Martenot, is an excellent presentation, full of vibrant sonorities and vigorous playing, all captured in Ondine's spacious multichannel recording. The hybrid SACD format offers the best way to appreciate Turangalîla, because the massive orchestra should be heard with all its parts distinctly separated, rather than as a thick, homogenous mass, and this recording brings great clarity to all the moving parts. But even more important than the internal details are the shockingly vivid tone colors, which are among the most exciting in 20th century orchestral music. In this area, Lintu draws out the most sharply defined sounds, and pays special attention to Messiaen's lush string and wind textures and sharply accented percussion. Highly recommended to newcomers and Messiaen aficionados alike. © TiVo

Classical - Released August 23, 2004 | Warner Classics International

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Solo Piano - Released November 24, 2017 | Piano Classics

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Classical - Released July 13, 2018 | Naxos

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Following his 2017 Naxos release of Olivier Messiaen's Les Corps glorieux and the Messe de la Pentecôte, Tom Winpenny has recorded the Livre d'orgue (1951), a collection of studies employing Indian rhythms, unusual modes, and birdsongs, which were all part of the composer's stock-in-trade at the time. The opening track, an independent work titled Verset pour la fête de la Dédicace (1960), is a soft and relatively accessible birdsong piece that serves as a suitable introduction to Messiaen's style and methods. Because what follows is considerably more sparse, angular, and fragmentary, the Livre d'orgue may be regarded as a rather cerebral exercise. In spite of such evocative titles as "The Hands of the Abyss" and "The Eyes in the Wheels," there is less of the religious mysticism that otherwise permeates Messiaen's music. One might be tempted to dismiss the Livre d'orgue as an anthology of mid-20th century avant-garde notions, particularly over the use of pointillisme that was common in the international serial style, but considering Messiaen's deep faith and visionary outlook, it's difficult to write off as merely a bag of tricks. The closing pieces, Monodie (1963) and Tristan et Yseult : Thème d'amour (1945), are slight and seem to be included for the sake of completeness, though Winpenny deserves credit for choosing pieces that are well suited to the program as a whole.

Classical - Released March 6, 2020 | Mode Records

In the years preceding the war, Olivier Messiaen was obsessed with the eternal tragedy of Tristan and Isolde. Between 1945 and 1949, he wrote back to back three pieces, soon to be forming a trilogy: Harawi (songs of love and death), Turangalîla-Symphonie, and the Cinq Rechants. Messiaen composed Harawi in 1945. It was performed the following year in Mâcon by the composer’s trustful soprano Marcelle Bunlet and in Brussels where Messiaen played the piano. Harawi is a broad song cycle of twelve melodies. The cycle features a magical language, partly imagined by the composer himself, and inspired by Quechua. The word “harawi” (“yaravi” in Spanish) means “love song.” Isolde becomes Piroutcha, a character consumed with love. Her songs delve into Peruvian themes and references. Harawi is more than a traditional cycle of French melody. With this piece, Messiaen invites the listener to an experience of musical theater. The singer must master both low notes and high, lighter sounds. She must be able to shout, as if she was possessed, and use a set of onomatopoeia echoing surreal images and symbolism that Messiaen found in astronomy and, of course, bird songs. The cycle is long (more than an hour and fifteen minutes) and extremely difficult for the voice and the piano. It is rarely performed and recorded. For young German soprano Sarah Maria Sun and pianist Stefka Perifanova, recording Harawi is a tour de force. Their work on the piece’s supposedly unintelligible lyrics is admirable and, Perifanova’s energy on the piano is joyful. The recording’s sound, slightly reverberating, participates in the shaping of this difficult piece, yet to discover. © François Hudry/Qobuz

Classical - Released September 14, 2018 | La Dolce Volta

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4F de Télérama - Grand Prix de l'Académie Charles Cros - Choc de Classica

Classical - Released March 1, 2015 | London Philharmonic Orchestra

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Symphonic Music - Released September 7, 2000 | Naxos


Classical - Released February 15, 2019 | Alpha

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Composed in 1944 and first performed at the Salle Gaveau in Paris on 26 March 1945 by Yvonne Loriod, this is the second great pianistic cycle by Olivier Messiaen: a major work indeed, not only in the composer’s oeuvre but in the entire repertoire for solo piano. As we know, its origin is in the faith and spirituality of Olivier Messiaen, who described it as: ‘The Contemplation of the Child-God in the cradle, and the gazes fixed upon Him: from the inexpressible Gaze of God the Father to the multiple Gaze of the Church of love, also taking in the unheard Gaze of the Spirit of joy, the tender Gaze of the Virgin, of the Angels, of the Magi, and of those creatures that are immaterial or symbolic (Time, Extreme Height, Silence, the Star, the Cross).’ He continues: ‘It is a complex of sounds destined for perpetual variations, pre-existing in the abstract as a series, but very concrete and easy to recognize by their colours: a steely grey-blue traversed by bright red and orange, a mauve-tinted violet spotted with leather-brown and encircled in deep purple.’ The vision of this work transmitted by Martin Helmchen – a great piano virtuoso who is himself marked by a strong sense of spirituality – is another substantial contribution to the Messiaenic monument. © Alpha Classics

Classical - Released January 1, 1990 | Warner Classics


Classical - Released September 14, 2018 | La Dolce Volta

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4F de Télérama - Grand Prix de l'Académie Charles Cros - Choc de Classica

Solo Piano - Released January 26, 2018 | NoMadMusic

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama - 5 étoiles de Classica

Classical - Released September 21, 2018 | Kings College Cambridge

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Nine extraordinary meditations by one of the twentieth century’s musical titans, performed on the magnificent King’s College Chapel organ by former organ scholar Richard Gowers. Written in 1935, La Nativité du Seigneur is one of Messiaen’s most popular organ works, and a piece that helped to establish the then 27 year-old as an important figure in contemporary music. Premiered in February 1936 at the Église de la Sainte-Trinité in Paris, where Messiaen was organist for more than sixty years, the debut performance was shared between three of his close friends; with Daniel-Lesur, Jean Langlais and Jean-Jacques Grunenwald each tackling three movements. A testament to Messiaen’s devout Catholicism, each movement follows a portion of the Christmas story, from the Virgin Birth to Epiphany, with the number of movements symbolic of the nine months of Mary’s pregnancy. Significantly, the work contains early examples of Messiaen’s signature compositional elements, such as birdsong, rhythmic inspiration from Hindustani and Carnatic musical traditions, and the ‘modes of limited transportation’, which he would later publish in "La technique de mon langage musical". Born in 1994, Richard Gowers is a British organist, pianist and conductor. After becoming a prize-winning Fellow of the Royal College of Organists at the age of 17, he won first prize at the 2013 Northern Ireland International Organ Competition and studied at the Mendelssohn Conservatoire in Leipzig. From 2014 to 2017 he held the distinguished position of organ scholar at King’s College, Cambridge and in September 2017 he became Chapel Choir Organist at the Old Royal Naval College Trinity Laban. His career as a concert organist has seen him perform in prestigious venues around the world, including Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral. © King's College

Classical - Released November 11, 2016 | Calliope

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Classical - Released January 1, 2002 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)