Olivier Messiaen plays Olivier Messiaen part 2

The second part of the complete Olivier Messiaen plays Olivier Messiaen consists of Apparition de l’Èglise éternelle and Les Corps Glorieux.

I discussed the technical and historical details in the first release, so I’ll not go into these details again.

As mentioned in the first release, I’m very reluctant in naming the definitive renditions of any works, but Messiaens own interpretation of the Apparition is simply amazing. His tempo is extremely slow but never dragging and his overall musical perception of the piece is so incredible grand.

In fact looking over just a few other recordings of this piece puts Messiaens version as the slowest:

Olivier Messiaen (1956) 10:05, Latry (rec. 2000) 9:45, Rudolf Innig (1996) 9:16, Jennifer Bate (1982) 10:00, Susan Landale (1986) 7:36, Thomas Trotter (1993) 9:48, Louis Thiry (1972) 8:01.

The overall timing of a piece doesn’t directly tell anything about the actual tempo (or tempi) in a piece. There are many other factors in play, just listen to the very big pauses Messiaen has between some of the sections, but the overall timing can tell us a little of the performers overall grasp of the whole piece.

The Corps Glorieux are done with a strong personality and commanding interpretation, but still very spontaneous and with great elegance and plasticity. Especially I can recommend the “Les Eaux”, in which he almost make the organ dance in the middle section, and the fiendishly difficult last part is done in a very virtuoso style.

Thanks again to Anders Riber for providing the transfers of these important documents. No digital noise reduction has been applied, so there is a little background hiss and click here and there.


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