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, 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.
- Release Date:
- Warner Classics
- Eclairs sur l'au-delá, for orchestra, I/61
Performance CreditsSimon Rattle Primary Artist
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews