Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Messiaen disc 10

Médiations sur le Mystère de la Sainte Trinité (1969) Olivier Latry, organist

What is it about Messiaen's music that I love? There is drama to be sure, but that's not always a quality that I like. Of Beethoven's music, it's the more understated works that I find most satisfying. I love Morton Feldman's music, which is often determinately anti-dramatic.

I love that Messiaen embraces a sense of beauty, but again, not all music is nor should be about beauty.

I definitely love his sense of harmony, which assumes that combinations of notes matter. That relates to the two previous paragraphs.

I love that he sounds like himself at (nearly) all times, this piece being no exception.

Melody is never out of the picture. Again, not necessarily everything I'm looking for, but I enjoy his sense of it.

I recall that I knew enough about Messiaen in college to talk about him to pianists and organists. They were disinterested in playing his music. Too weird, too abstruse, and inappropriate for the organ/church setting.

Assuming I was an organist of any ability, and that I had the discipline to do so, I'd devote myself to Messiaen's music. Personally, his organ music is generally not my favorite of his works, but what a beautiful thing to get inside of his sound-world.

For a few years, I was hired as a ringer for the CMU Wind Ensemble on baritone saxophone, because they had no sax majors at all. I enjoyed playing the wind ensemble works by Hindemith, Schoenberg, Gershwin. Twice, works by Messiaen for piano and winds (birdsong pieces) were programmed, and neither had saxophones! Come on man, I WANT to play this music!

I'm writing this as Médiations plays. I'm intermittently engaged and bored with it. Why is it that Messiaen's organ music, the instrument he himself was connected to, produced what I find to be some of his least interesting music? Does that say more about me than him?

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