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Olivier Messiaen, 1908-1992 Box set

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Product details

  • Composer: Olivier Messiaen
  • Audio CD (10 Jan 2009)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 6
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Naive
  • ASIN: B0014GIZCY
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 330,320 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

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.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By nwc on 6 Oct 2013
Format: MP3 Download
This set consists of

CD 1-2 [36:44 + 63:13]
La Transfiguration de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ (1965-1969)
Yvonne Loriod, (piano)
Arturo Muruzabal, (cello)
Martine van der Loo, (flute)
Harmen de Boer, (clarinet)
Peter Prommel, (marimba)
Ruud Stotÿn, (vibraphone)
Henk de Vlieger, (xylorimba)
Ludwig van Gijsegem, (tenor)
Reiner Holthaus, (baritone)
Choir of the BRT, Brussels; Groot Omroepkoor
Radio Symphonie Orkest, Hilversum/Reinbert de Leeuw
rec. live, Great Hall, Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, 29 June 1991.

CD 3
Visions de l'Amen (1943)[48:55]
Amen de la Création [7:18]; Amen des étoiles, de la planète à l'anneau [5:46]; Amen de l'Agonie de Jésus [7:53]; Amen du Désir [10:54]; Amen des Anges, des Saints, du chant des oiseaux [7:06]; Amen du Jugement [2:43]; Amen de la Consommation [7:08]
Maarten Bon; Reinbert de Leeuw (pianos)
rec. Muziekcentrum Vredenburg, Utrecht 1988

CD 4 [61:45]
Sept haïkaï (1962) [21:00]
Couleurs de la cité céleste (1963) [16:10]
Un vitrail et des oiseaux (1986) [8:20]
Oiseaux exotiques (1955-56) [14:47]
Yvonne Loriod (piano)
Ensemble Intercontemporain/Pierre Boulez
rec. live, 26 November 1988, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Paris

CD 5-6 [47:10 + 44:00]
Des canyons aux étoiles ... (1971/4)
Marja Bon (piano); Hans Dullaert (horn); Ger de Zeeuw (xylorimba); Wim Vos (glockenspiel); Asko Ensemble; Schönberg Ensemble ; Slagwerkgroep Den Haag/Reinbert de Leeuw
rec. live, 3 October 1990, Vredenburg Utrecht.

Very Good performances all, and with the MP3 format, the set fits onto Five well-filled discs if you prefer a physical object to play. Very good value.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2 reviews
44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
Inspirational Tribute 14 Jun 2008
By Dean R. Brierly - Published on
Format: Audio CD
In honor of the 100th year of Olivier Messiaen's birth comes this six-disc set of some of his most groundbreaking and beautiful music. The protean composer was one of the 20th century's major visionaries as well as one of its most accessible artists, a claim few other musicians can make. While his output is immense, this box set functions both as a wonderful entry point for those unfamiliar with his work, and a welcome addition to the most ardent Messian fan's collection. An added bonus is the presence of two of the most gifted interpreters of his music: the virtuoso pianist Yvonne Loriod (Messiaen's widow), and legendary conductor/composer Pierre Boulez. The first two discs are devoted to Messiaen's "The Transfiguration of Christ," a monumental work that expresses his deep religious faith through an astonishing musical palette of brilliant orchestral colors and sensuous choral passages. The composer's trademark birdsong effects and exotic percussion are also much in evidence. The performance by Loriod, the Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Brussels BRTN choir is perhaps the best version I've heard. Disc three features "Visions de L'Amen," a much knottier, more angular work, scored for two pianos, that makes effective use of repetition and harsh dynamics, yet not without sparks of iridescent lyricism. Disc four is a real treat: a 1988 concert staged in honor of Messiaen's 80th birthday, with Pierre Boulez conducting a small orchestra and Loriod playing piano on several of the composer's seminal works. "Sept Haiku" and "Couleurs de la Cite Celeste" are sublime meditations full of movement, tension and mystery. "Un Vitrail et des Oiseaux" and "Oiseaux Exotiques" evoke to the fullest Messiaen's ability to transpose actual birdsong transcriptions into ravishing musical equivalents. The final two discs present another massive orchestral work, "Des Canyons aux Etoiles." Inspired by the geography and birds of Utah's Bryce Canyon, it's a long and episodic journey full of Messiaen's unique sound colors and textures, infused with a profound spiritual beauty that can be equally enjoyed from a religious or secular perspective. All of these works share an idiosyncratic approach to melody, rhythm and harmony, and sound like no other music ever written. Messiaen passed away in 1992, but musicians and music lovers alike are still coming to grips with his complex and glorious legacy.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Representative of composer's intent 4 Nov 2013
By David F. Bridgman - Published on
Verified Purchase
Performances by Messiaen and his wife are good, representative, and indicative of the composer's intentions. A fine introduction to Messiaen. For those not familiar with his musical style, it may take some careful listening, but the effort is amply rewarding.
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