Olivier Messiaen - Never Before Released

Olivier Messiaen - Never Before Released


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Olivier Messiaen - Never Before Released

It's perhaps a little disingenuous to call a reissue Never Before Released, but it's certainly simpler than having to completely repackage the CD, and this selection of rarities (plus "Le merle noir") by Messiaen includes so many treasures that the listener, after hearing it, is unlikely to be too concerned about the title. Messiaen wrote "La morte du nombre" for soprano, tenor, violin, and piano in 1929 while he was a student at the Paris Conservatory. It's possible to trace its lineage back through Debussy's "Le Martyre de St. Sébastien" to "Tristan," but in its melodic, harmonic, and gestural language, it is still very clearly a work of Messiaen's, and couldn't possibly be attributed to anyone else. It's a serene, gorgeous, sensuous piece that deserves to be more widely known. "Offrande au Saint Sacrament," for organ, is undated, but probably written soon after "La morte du nombre," and has a similar mood of quiet radiance. It's typical of the style of the composer's organ works of the early '30s -- harmonically and melodically rich, emotionally warm, and rhythmically irregular. "Quatre Inédits for Ondes Martenot and piano" sound like absolutely nothing else in the world. Messiaen regularly used the early electronic instrument to ravishing effect as part of an orchestral texture, but it's revelatory to hear it highlighted as it is here; the sounds of which it's capable and which the composer adroitly exploits are stunning. The album closes with "Chant des Déportés," for chorus and orchestra, written in celebration of the liberation of prisoners from concentration camps in 1945. It's distinctly Messiaen, but at the same time rousingly patriotic -- the choral parts are unison and relatively simple, probably intended for community choruses rather than professionals -- and the effect is genuinely gripping. The performances are generally very fine, particularly those featuring pianist Yvonne Loriod (the composer's wife), organist Naji Hakim, and Jeanne Loriod playing Ondes Martenot. The vocal soloists in "La morte du nombre" sound a little pinched. The quality of the recording of the BBC Orchestra and Chorus, under Andrew Davis, is muffled and woofy, but otherwise the sound is good. Any fan of the composer will want to hear these obscure but attractive pieces.

Product Details

Release Date: 04/08/2008
Label: Jade Records
UPC: 0731383635229
catalogNumber: 36352
Rank: 128367


  1. La Mort du nombre, for soprano, tenor, violin & piano, I/6
  2. Offrande au Saint-Sacrement, for organ
  3. Prélude, for piano
  4. Chant (dans le style Mozart), for clarinet & piano
  5. Prélude, for organ
  6. Piece, for piano & string quartet, I/58
  7. Le merle noir, for flute & piano, I/37
  8. Monodie, for organ, I/45a
  9. Feuillets inédits (4), for ondes Martenot
  10. Pièce pour le tombeau de Paul Dukas, for piano, I/16
  11. Chant des Déportés, for large soprano and tenor chorus & orchestra, I/60

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