Sunday, February 27, 2011

Olivier Messiaen - Éclairs sur L'au Delà - Simon Rattle, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra







Éclairs sur l'au-dela (Illuminations of the Beyond) was Messiaen's last work. It shares with his other large-scale orchestral pieces a sense of otherworldly grandeur, obsessively repeated rhythmic and melodic patterns, birdcalls, and a riot of orchestral color, among much else. Its eleven movements address different aspects of the title and, like virtually everything Messiaen wrote, could not be mistaken for any other composer. Rattle and the Berlin Orchestra deliver aOlivier Messiaen in 1946 skilled, dynamic rendition, steering clear of the kitschy implications of sections where Messiaen skirts the edges of kitsch (enjoyable as they may be). Unexpectedly, the Berliners sound at home in this music, with some terrific solo and section contributions, and special kudos due to the percussionists and winds, especially the flutes, whose birdcalls resound throughout the work. Transparent engineering uncovers details in the score, further making this a delight for Messiaen fans. --Dan Davis



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