Messiaen: Visions de l'Amen; Debussy: En blanc et noir

Messiaen: Visions de l'Amen; Debussy: En blanc et noir

by Jerome Lowenthal
     
 

Although it is true for all music, the music of Olivier Messiaen in particular, for all its complexity and originality, is at its very best when the performer and listener can connect to it emotionally in some way. His "Visions de l'Amen," as performed by Ursula Oppens and Jerome Lowenthal here, is not as engaging as it could be for the listener. Both Oppens and… See more details below

Overview

Although it is true for all music, the music of Olivier Messiaen in particular, for all its complexity and originality, is at its very best when the performer and listener can connect to it emotionally in some way. His "Visions de l'Amen," as performed by Ursula Oppens and Jerome Lowenthal here, is not as engaging as it could be for the listener. Both Oppens and Lowenthal are technically superb, separately and as an ensemble. Their unison passages are spot-on together, and overall their playing is precise and intent. It's just that what comes with that precision is a sense of calculation, that the music isn't quite as spontaneously inspiring to them -- and consequently, to the listener -- as Messiaen usually is. A lot of this has to do with the recording's sound, which puts some distance between the listener and the pianos. It is clear and balanced between the two instruments and between the different registers of the pianos, but it isn't as immediately felt and, therefore, less engaging than it could be. All of the same is true of the performance of Debussy's "En blanc et noir" that follows the Messiaen. There are similar circumstances between the two works: both were written in Paris during wartime and are, after a fashion, reactions to that war. Oppens and Lowenthal play Debussy more drily than most, which is probably closer to what Debussy wanted, and in the second movement, it does highlight the senselessness of war. Yet, again, it's more deliberate than organic in expression as a whole. While this is a technically superior performance, pianistically speaking, there are other recordings of these two works that more easily connect with the listener.

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Product Details

Release Date:
08/31/2010
Label:
Cedille
UPC:
0735131911924
catalogNumber:
119
Rank:
363297

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. En blanc et noir, for 2 pianos, L. 134  - Claude Debussy  - Jerome Lowenthal  - Ursula Oppens  - Adam Fleishman  - Auguste Privat
  2. Visions de l'Amen for 2 pianos, I/25  - Olivier Messiaen  - Jerome Lowenthal  - Ursula Oppens  - Adam Fleishman  - Auguste Privat

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