This 6 CD set is being released to mark the centenary of the birth of the great 20th century French composer Olivier Messiaen. The music on these discs was originally recorded between 1988 and 1991 and released on the label Montaigne. The selection of works included feature major works that cover the most significant period in Messiaen's life as a composer. The earliest of these is the "Visions de L'Amen" for two pianos which was written in 1943, whilst the most recent, "Un Vitrail et des Oiseaux" for piano and small orchestra comes from the year 1986.
Throughout his life Messiaen maintained a strong devotion to Catholicism, and many of his works like "Visions de L'Amen", "La Transfiguration de Notre Seigneur, Jesus Christ", a large scale piece for choir and orchestra that was written in the late 1960's, and the 1963 composition for piano and ensemble "Couleurs de la Cité Celeste" are representations of his unwavering faith in Christianity.
Messiaen was also an avid birdwatcher and recorded and catalogued their songs which he transcribed and used to marvellous effect in several of his compositions, including the aptly named "Oiseaux Exotique" of 1956, which alongside the later "Un Vitrail et des Oiseaux" is similarly written for piano and chamber ensemble. The "Sept Haїkaї" was written in 1962 and is subtitled "japanese sketches for piano and small orchestra". It is the composer's musical response to the landscape and birds of Japan, as well as the order and ceremony that defines that country's culture. The final work in this set is the massive "Des Canyons aux Etoiles", for solo piano, horn, xylorimba, glockenspiel and orchestra. Written in 1974, it is a monumental cycle of meditations on the majesty of God in all his creation, and was inspired by a visit that the composer made to the great canyons of Utah in the U.S.A.
Artists featured in the recordings include renowned Messiaen interpreters, Pierre Boulez, Yvonne Loriod, the Schoenberg Ensemble, and Reinbert de Leeuw.