- Catalogue d'oiseaux (in 7 books), for piano, I/42
- La Fauvette des jardins, for piano, I/50
Messiaen's "Catalog of Birds" for piano is one of the wonders of modern music, a work apart from schools, movement, intellectual constructions, and programmatic declarations concerning the future of music. Perhaps the engaging, enigmatic, spellbinding nature of this music proceeds from Messiaen's unique source of inspiration: birdsong. Non-human, the source of Messiaen's music is nevertheless not alien since Messiaen celebrates the sounds of nature, which he, as a devout Catholic, experiences as a divine creation. It's difficult to imagine a better interpreter of Messiaen's powerful visions than pianist Anatol Ugorski, who plunges himself into Messiaen's spiritual universe with the passionate abandon of a devoted seeker. As Messiaen pointed out, he translated birdsongs -- characteristic melodies created by thrushes, blackbirds, warblers, finches, and many others -- into the language of Western music, changing a variety of almost imperceptible intervals, for example, into half tones. However, even with the additional transposition into pianistic language, these astounding, visionary glimpses of a distant world only strengthen the listener's intuitive perception of music as language without intellectual limits. Approaching the piano as a living entity, Ugorski reveals sonorities transcending his instrument's technical limitations. Within the dizzying depths of the piano's complex sound, Ugorski masterfully limns his sounds with subtle, imaginative pedaling, creating exquisite arrays of sound and allowing the listener to penetrate the complex, rich, and sometimes even disorienting realms of Messiaen's birdsongs. As he sketches the intricate dynamic arches of each tableau, Ugorski keeps his eye on every detail of Messiaen's score, effortlessly moving from monumentally elemental realms to the rarefied, dazzling, intoxicating, free, impulsive expressiveness of a song whose pure beauty never encounters the critical -- and therefore destructive -- eye of a listener with preconceptions and expectations. Without aiming to please, this music speaks to the listener's loftiest spiritual aspirations.