- Hommage à Messiaen, for organ
- La Nativité du Seigneur, meditations (9) for organ, I/14
Colin Andrews' performance of Messiaen's "La Nativité du Seigneur" tends toward the pastel-colored. Andrews plays with great finesse and technical assurance; this is clearly the performance of a musician who has spent a lifetime with this monumental piece. His interpretive choices fit the contemplative mood of several of the movements, but some others seem merely eccentric or bland. In general, the performance lacks a rhythmic vitality and direction that need to be kept up even when the music is slow-moving, as it is in many of the movements. The movements with a strong sense of pulse or that are faster, such as the "Les enfants de Dieu" and "Les Anges," are the most convincing. There is some slackness in slow movements, such as "Les Bergers" and "Les Mages" that could have been avoided with more sense of rhythmic momentum underlying the surface calm. The same could be said for the beginning of "Dieu parmi nous," which, even though it begins slowly, requires a sense of energy building up so that the remarkably explosive ending feels inevitable, rather than simply like a tacked-on grand finale, which it does here. Andrews also adds several inexplicable pauses to the finale that subvert and deflate the power of the exquisite metrical precision of Messiaen's notation. Overall, Andrews' performance sounds flaccid and unconvincing. Even though the work's broad theme -- the Nativity -- is pastoral, the specific issues that Messiaen relates to it -- God's eternal design, Jesus accepting the suffering he will experience, and God dwelling among us -- are awesome, in the literal sense of the word, and a performer needs to convey that awe by playing the fearsome music fearsomely.