Messiaen, Trio Wanderer, Pascal Moragues - Quatuor Pour La Fin Du Temps

Published Thursday 17th August 2017
Messiaen, Trio Wanderer, Pascal Moragues - Quatuor Pour La Fin Du Temps
Messiaen, Trio Wanderer, Pascal Moragues  - Quatuor Pour La Fin Du Temps

STYLE: Classical
RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
LABEL: Harmonia Mundi Gold HMG501987

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) is one of the giants of 20th century music although perhaps not to everyone's taste. He was not a prolific writer of chamber music so this re-issue of a 2008 collection could stand as the definitive collection. The closing track, "Theme Et Variations" for violin and piano, was written in 1932 for his wife, the violinist and composer Claire Delbos and is as close as Messiaen ever gets to a conventional classical piece and fits well with the main attraction, his "Quatuor Pour La Fin Du Temps" ("Quartet For The End Of Time"), written in 1941 during a period of wartime imprisonment in Silesia. This apocalyptic work, inspired by the visionary 10th chapter of the book of Revelation, was composed for the instruments available (clarinet, piano, violin and 'cello) and was first performed in the prison camp. Knowing this we can understand why the composer may have preferred not to write any more chamber music. As with much instrumental music we need to know the context before we can begin to understand where the composer is coming from. As we all know, Messiaen was a committed Roman Catholic. From 1930 he was principal organist of La Trinité in Paris. If the music on this CD is what he hears as he reads Revelation 10 who am I to disagree? It might not be what I hear or how I would express the impact of John's words but I am glad to hear this recording. The playing by Jean-Marc Phillips-Varajabedian (violin), Raphael Pidoux ('cello) and Vincent Coq (piano) who collectively comprise Trio Wanderer and their guest clarinetist Pascal Moragues is exemplary. Where the clarinet takes the lead I am reminded of one of my favourites, John Tavener's "The Repentant Thief" which sounds as though he had been listening to Messiaen. There are other recordings of the Quartet and I cannot claim to have heard all of them. Some may be as good as this but I would be very surprised if any are better.

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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