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Classical | Label: Hunnia Records
Everything is real. Olivier Messiaen’s piano cycle, Catalogue d'oiseaux (Catalogue of Birds), besides being one of the monumental creations of modern music, is one of the greatest 'cathedrals' among works ever composed for the piano (or any keyboard instrument).
For a pianist like me the interpretation of such a complex masterwork is a special event. It is an extreme undertaking in the mental, spiritual and physical sense alike. The structural complexity of the work, however, never becomes disturbing, considering that the 'complexity' of this music results in the continuous extension of the horizon in the listener, who then becomes part of a sounding coordinate system himself. This complexity is a flash of Order, where Time itself, similarly to Salvador Dalí’s melting clocks, expands. 'Tout est vrai (Everything is real)' we read in the author’s preface to the first recording of this work. Messiaen, who collected the song of birds from all corners of the world, notated them in the minutest possible detail in his works as literal quotations. For him this was the only possible way compatible with his religious conviction, and 'Tout est vrai' symbolically means that it is not he but God who is the creator of his works. The composer can only be the means, a medium.
I can only write about this work with the greatest admiration. It has transformed my identity as a pianist and this transformation is going on to this day. My first meeting with Messiaen turned my whole life away from its earlier direction in the blink of an eye. The reason may be that Messiaen knows what only the truly greatest know: that each element of his music builds up an individual dimension, a sounding, colourful aura around the given notes, similarly to the haloes in Italian Renaissance paintings which almost 'tip out' of the plane of the canvas.
Messiaen often chooses 'impalpable' as a performance direction. It is no accident; in his works we enter the visible and tangible transcendent through the intangibility of the invisible. We are faced here with something which is seemingly incompatible with our existence.
01. Messiaen: Première Livre No.1: Le Chocard des Alpes (Alpine Chough)
02. Messiaen: Première Livre No.2: Le Loriot (Golden Oriole)
03. Messiaen: Première Livre No.3: Le Merle bleu (Blue Rock Thrush)
04. Messiaen: Deuxième Livre: Le Traquet Stapazin (Black-eared Wheatear)
05. Messiaen: Troisième Livre: No.1 La Chouette Hulotte (Tawny Owl)
06. Messiaen: Troisième Livre: No.2 L'Alouette Lulu (Wood Lark)
07. Messiaen: Quatrième Livre: La Rousserolle Effarvatte (Reed Warbler)
08. Messiaen: Cinquième Livre: No.1 L'Alouette Calandrelle (Short-toed Lark)
09. Messiaen: Cinquième Livre: No.2 La Bouscarle (Cetti's Warbler)
10. Messiaen: Sixième Livre: Le Merle de roche (Rock Thrush)
11. Messiaen: Septième Livre: No.1 La Buse variable (Buzzard)
12. Messiaen: Septième Livre: No.2 Le Traquet rieur (Black Wheatear)
13. Messiaen: Septième Livre: No.3 Le Courlis cendré (Curlew)