Messiaen: Éclairs Sur L'au-delà...

Messiaen: Éclairs Sur L'au-delà...

by Simon Rattle
     
 

Simon Rattle is the best thing that could have happened to the Berlin Philharmonic. Since taking over as artistic director in 2002, Rattle has pushed the orchestra's boundaries by steadily introducing it to repertoire far removed from its standard Germanic diet. Judging from this performance of Olivier Messiaen's final masterpiece,See more details below

Overview

Simon Rattle is the best thing that could have happened to the Berlin Philharmonic. Since taking over as artistic director in 2002, Rattle has pushed the orchestra's boundaries by steadily introducing it to repertoire far removed from its standard Germanic diet. Judging from this performance of Olivier Messiaen's final masterpiece, Éclairs sur l'au-delà... (1987-91), the orchestra is positively reveling in its new horizons. Éclairs (Illuminations of the Beyond...), is one of several late pieces by Messiaen that seem to sum up his life's work. Over the course of an hour, the listener is guided along a path to paradise leading through this composer's distinctive world of sound, full of birdsong quotations (listen to the Ninth Movement, where woodwinds impersonate 25 birds at once) and Catholic mysticism, and juxtaposing an expanded percussion section with serene meditations for strings alone. Éclairs has less Technicolor exotica than Messiaen's other great orchestral pageant, the better-known "Turangalîla" Symphony, but it achieves levels of sublime tranquility that equal or surpass many of his other works. Rattle's primary competition here is Myung-Whun Chung's recording of Éclairs, now a decade old, with the Bastille Orchestra. Frankly, it's hard to go wrong with either version. If Chung's orchestra brought out more of the music's Frenchness, Rattle's makes it seem more universal -- and possibly even more beautiful. The Berlin strings lend a particularly golden radiance to the rapturous concluding movement, slowly unfolding at the pace of eternity. No composer other than Messiaen could have imagined this music, much less written it down, and this recording pays fitting tribute to the last musical testament of one of the 20th century's most individual composers.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Blair Sanderson
If any conductor can be trusted to bring out the shimmering colors, textural depths, and profound majesty of Olivier Messiaen's late masterpiece "Éclairs sur l'au-delà...", then confidence in Sir Simon Rattle certainly is well-placed. Approaching this massive work with acute precision in its smallest parts, yet ever mindful of the music's cosmic dimensions, Rattle leads the expanded Berlin Philharmonic in an exacting yet sweeping performance. The consistency of the large ensemble is remarkable, particularly in the processional of wind choirs in "Apparition du Christ glorieux," in the elaborate counterpoint of birdsongs in "Plusieurs Oiseaux des arbres de Vie," and in the sublime string textures of "Demeurer dans l'amour" and "Le Christ, lumière du Paradis." Yet there are many delicate details that demonstrate Rattle's meticulousness and sensitivity to color, especially in the ringing changes of "La constellation du Sagittaire" and the quicksilver exchanges of "L'Oiseaux-lyre et la Ville-fiancée." Only the recorded sound is less than ideal, perhaps too spacious and resonant for Messiaen's most complicated passages to be heard clearly. Even so, this challenging work has had few great performances, and Rattle's excellent rendition is only surpassed by Myung-Whun Chung's brilliant reading with the Orchestre de l'Opéra Bastille on Deutsche Grammophon, which also offers superior sound.
New York Times - Anthony Tommasini
An exhilarating performance.
Gramophone - David Gutman
It could well be that, not for the first time, Rattle is some way ahead of us and that his version looks to the future and to the 'au-delà' of this extraordinary piece. Certainly it is not a disc I should want to be without.
Los Angeles Times
Superb: rich and full. [The recording] fills the ears like none before in [Messiaen's] sumptuous work.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/05/2004
Label:
Warner Classics
UPC:
0724355778826
catalogNumber:
57788
Rank:
371701

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Eclairs sur l'au-delá, for orchestra, I/61  - Olivier Messiaen  -  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  - Simon Rattle

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