Messiaen, Netherlands Wind Ensemble - Et Exspecto Ressurectionem Martuorum

Wednesday 1st February 1995
Messiaen, Netherlands Wind Ensemble - Et Exspecto Ressurectionem Martuorum

STYLE: Classical
RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
LABEL: Chandos 9301/2

Reviewed by John Irvine

Messiaen said, "A certain number of my works are destined to highlight the theological truths of the Catholic faith. This is the main aspect of my work...the sole aspect which I will not perhaps regret at the hour of my death." It is the expression of God's relationship with man that gives Messiaen's music its theological orientation. In a non-religious age, Messiaen's music was dominated by religion and particularly in the 30 years up to his death in 1992, by thoughts of the resurrection and the life beyond. Messiaen was also a Modernist in terms of his approach to making music and yet many of his works have found favour with audiences and musicians who are actively hostile to the principles of the avant-garde. The reason lies in Messiaen's unique musical language, his insight and his religious vision. Each piece of music by Messiaen is on the grandest scale, ascending the heights of human experience, plumbing the depths of theological truth. This collection of pieces performed by the Netherlands Wind Ensemble gathers together in one place virtually all of Messiaen's writing for wind instruments. Included are the "Oiseaux Exotigues" (1956), a representation of the songs of 48 exotic birds from around the world, "Couleurs De La Cite Celeste" (1963), a meditation on the depiction of the heavenly Jerusalem in the book of Revelation, and "Et Exspecto" (1964). This piece was written in memory of the French dead of the two World Wars. Messiaen 'awaits the raising of the dead' and each movement (fabulously scored for wind and percussion) meditates on biblical passages such as John 5:25, Romans 6:9 and Revelation 19:6 (look them up!). This is the most vibrant and colourful performance of this piece that I have come across. Performances in this and the other pieces in the set are second to none. This can only be described as an outstanding release and a real treat for Messiaen fans and students of 20th century music.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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