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|1. 1 Regard du Pere|
|2. 2 Regard de l'Etoile|
|3. 3 L'echange|
|4. 4 Regard de la Vierge|
|5. 5 Regard du Fils sur le Fils|
|6. 6 Par Lui tout a ete fait|
|7. 7 Regard de la Croix|
|8. 8 Regard des hauteurs|
|9. 9 Regard du Temps|
|10. 10 Regard de l'Esprit de joie|
|1. 11 Premiere communion de la Vierge|
|2. 12 La parole toute puissante|
|3. 13 Noel|
|4. 14 Regard des Anges|
|5. 15 Le baiser de l'Enfant-Jesus|
|6. 16 Regards des prophetes, des gbergers et des Mages|
|7. 17 Regard du silence|
|8. 18 Regard de l'Onction terrible|
|9. 19 Je dors, mais mon coeur veille|
|10. 20 Regard de l'Eglise d'amour|
The work was written during the German occupation of France, where basic services such as electricity were becoming so scarce that even the Paris Opéra closed for a time. Messiaen's home was in the north-east of the city, surrounded by constant outbreaks of fighting. With De Gaulle's historic shouts of 'Paris humiliated! Paris broken! Paris martyrised! But Paris liberated!' (words which later Messiaen openly supported) it is astonishing that he managed to finish the Vingt Regards at all in this time, with its symbolic themes of all-embracing love, the Virgin, the Cross and God.
Even with music as finely detailed as Messiaen's in its markings of tempo and articulation, there is still a lot of room for individual interpretation and variation. In this recording of Vingt Regards Osborne often produces glittering pianistic effects or brings out rarely-heard musical lines, although sometimes he sticks perhaps a little too rigidly to the composer's precise notation.
With 'music of the spirit' like this, it is difficult to tread the fine line between total adherence to the printed music and a performance which, although accurate, can 'give' at the edges and produce a perhaps more fulfilling, dare I say impressionist, colourful whole. Osborne possesses these 'giving' qualities, but more than a few times I wished he had taken just a little more time over some of the hurrying groups of demisemiquavers.
He certainly has the pianistic and musical capabilities to carry it off, this recording being one of the most virtuosic I have heard. But for me this performance did feel rather '4-square' - although technically very exact, with great sweeping ranges of timbre and dynamics, it was in places too exact, perhaps not luxuriating or giving as much time to the all-important Messiaen sound-world as I would have liked. --Andrew McGregor
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Of the CD versions of this work, I believe this recording is the finest now available. The colors achieved by Osborne, the delicacy of sound, the tone of the instrument, even the recording quality itself all lend itself to a superior recording.
The Aimard recording is good - but cooler. The opening work, "Regard du Pere" really sets the mood for the entire performance. It is hauntingly beautiful...sound rising from nothingness...exquisite tones...Aimard plays quicker and cooler -- Osborne's music is more sensual...captivating.
All-in-all, this is a performance which may win you over even if you've never liked this work. It is that good.
I had enjoyed Osborne's Kapustin recordings (though I preferred Hamelin's live versions of the same material), but his newer Messiaen disc completely stunned me. Most obviously, Osborne has suddenly become a master colorist. I can't imagine a more immediately effective performance or recording of this material.
For me, Osborne's Messiaen disc has quickly become as cherished as Richter's 1958 Sofia Recital, Hamelin's Wigmore Hall Recital, or Hough's Mompou recordings. Please do yourself a favor and invesigate.