Monday, June 1, 2020

Messiaen disc 14

La Transfiguration de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ (1969)
Premier Septénaire. Seven movements.

I purchased a vinyl copy of this fairly recently, so the work is still fresh in my mind.

The opening percussion. The chant-like unison choir melody, but a melody that couldn't have been written by anyone else.

I'm all in. This is classic Messiaen. I know his music well enough to pick up on resemblances to his opera and Turangulîla in particular, and I'm fine with that.

It is scored for mixed choir, seven instrumental soloists, and large orchestra. In my post yesterday I referred to this as (maybe) his oratorio. Cantata might be closer. I imagine he'd chafe at the comparison.

I wonder how difficult a work this is to sing? The unison passages sound...doable. Not easy, but quite performable. It's the denser harmonies that I wonder about. The choir sounds great, and the voicings are beautiful.

The piano soloist is again Roger Muraro, who is apparently DG's in-house Messiaen interpreter on the instrument. (I looked ahead in the booklet for the box set, and he's not on some of the other discs.)

I'm so happy to be able to listen to this work on CD, but I would love to be in the room when this is being performed. I'm sure it's a moving experience.

This disc is just 35 minutes, about 1/3 of the piece overall. I might take in the rest later tonight.

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