on 31 January 2008
The final movement of L'Ascension (Priere...) has phrases which begin extremely quietly so it is necessary to turn the sound up. This quibble aside, I believe that this is the best interpretation of the movement I have ever heard. It is played extremely slowly, as the composer required, and none of the rests is skimped. If you are prepared for it, the result is wonderful - just what Messiaen would have wanted. All praise to Myung-Whun Chung and his Bastille band. The third movement (Alleluia...) is played fast and with a conviction that overcomes the fact that this is an early piece by Messiaen and not entirely convincing.
I liked the Saint-Saens well enough until the organ's first loud section. The sound is extremely tubby - nothing to set the pulse racing here. You will find no details of the organ or organist in the booklet. I'm not surprised.