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Messiaen: Éclairs sur l'Au-delà

Olivier Messiaen , Sir Simon Rattle , Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra Audio CD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Sir Simon Rattle was born in Liverpool and studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

Between 1980 and 1998, Rattle was Principal Conductor and Artistic Adviser of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, then Music Director. He toured and recorded extensively with them and also conducted leading orchestras in London, Europe and the USA, enjoying a close association with the ... Read more in Amazon's Simon Rattle Store

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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Sir Simon Rattle
  • Composer: Olivier Messiaen
  • Audio CD (October 5, 2004)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: EMI Classics
  • ASIN: B0002IPZ6Y
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #215,766 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. I. Apparition Du Christ Glorieux
2. II. La Constellation Du Sagittaire
3. III. L'Oiseau-Lyre Et La Ville-Fiancee
4. IV. Les Elus Marques Du Sceau
5. V. Demeurer Dans L'Amour
6. VI. Les Sept Anges Aux Sept Trompettes
7. VII. Et Dieu Essuiera Tout Larme De Leurs Yeux...
8. VIII. Les Etoiles Et La Gloire
9. IX. Plusiers Oiseaux Des Arbres De Vie
10. X. Le Chemin De I'Invisible
11. XI. Le Christ, Lumiere Du Paradis

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

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 a 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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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MYSTIC, WONDERFUL December 26, 2004
Format:Audio CD
Music lovers who have so much as a nodding acquaintance with the work of Messiaen will have a very fair idea of what to expect from these Eclairs (flashes of illumination), written right at the end of his long life. Messiaen was in the Catholic tradition of mysticism, and he found the manifestation of the godhead on earth largely in the contemplation of birdlife and birdsong. He was also a virtuoso of the orchestra much as Tennyson was a virtuoso of the English language, and when I listen to this marvellous work I keep thinking tangentially of the arm that rose from the lake to reclaim Excalibur `clad in white samite, mystic, wonderful'. It's unfair to Messiaen in a minor way, because Messiaen's mysticism and religious faith were genuine and deep-seated; but the spectacular technical skill of his orchestral writing is every bit as important to the hearer, and these Illuminations of the Far Side are nearly as systematic a demonstration of the orchestra as Britten's Young Person's Guide to same.

You will get a few insights into the work from the accompanying liner note by Roger Nichols, but I have to report that his illuminations are fewer and less illuminating than they ought to have been. It's more than slightly lazy-minded, which might not have bothered me if this had been some familiar classic but which is downright objectionable in relation to a work that is crying out for informed comment. Here we have 11 pieces bearing religious titles. These titles give us the key (presumably) to the composer's inspiration in each case. Mr Nichols takes more than half the brief space available to him in a leisurely discussion of the composer's fascination with prime numbers and the fact that this is one of three works by him that have an American association.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warmth, color and depth and autumnal intensity October 12, 2004
Format:Audio CD
There is no doubt in my mind that this one will be the new "definitive" recording for Eclairs sur l'au dela. I own the Chung - Orchestre de l'Opera Bastille recording on DG, and by all means, that one is not bad. But, no matter how much sympathy I have for Chung's efforts, there is a clear and inescapable difference when you hear the Berlin Phil versus the a French Opera Orchester. Especially in "Demeurer dans L'amour" and "Le Christ, Lumiere du Paradis", the unparalled string section of the Berlin Philharmonic offers much more urgency, authority and sonority, much more cushioning and velvet, much more warmth, color and depth, and a real autumnal intensity (Sir Simon is said to have declared that this work is Messiaen's Missa Solemnis), and thereby transcends this recording into a very different league of its own.

Sometimes I feel though that the EMI engineering could be more spacious, but maybe this is just me...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow May 23, 2008
Format:Audio CD
This was my first experience with orchestral Messiaen, and I was rather blown away by the experience. The music is mesmerizing, and I was quite thrilled by it. Simon Rattle is a brilliant director, and the Berlin Philharmonic is truly a great ensemble. This is really a great piece to immerse yourself in.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
Éclairs sur l'au-delà is Messiaen's last work, and it includes most of the Messiaenic signature elements; complex rhythms, birdcalls, opulent harmonic compounds etc. Still, this is in my opinion not among Messiaen's best works, and frankly he seems at several points to revert to some of his standard tricks in the absence of something novel to say. Still, the richness of colors and staggering sonic allure (an oxymoron, but I suspect people who know their Messiaen will know what I mean) of the music will never really disappoint anyone who has ever been hypnotized by Messiaen.

Rattle has, as is apparently required of a star conductor, his own views about the music and makes several interesting choices regarding e.g. tempi. The Berlin Philharmonic expectedly brushes most relevant competition aside in terms of sheer magnificence of sound, although there is arguably some lack of power in the brass. The whole thing still sounds a tad ... anonymous, despite the said original choices in terms of tempo and perspective. The sound is detailed but lacks the last touch of opulence that Messiaen ideally requires.
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
"Eclairs sur l'au dela" for orchestra is Messiaen's last work, with the exception of a minor concerto for four musicians that had to be completed by George Benjamin. Messiaen wrote these "illuminations of the here-after" between 1987 and 1991, and the work was premiered in late '92, six months after the composers death. For a long time only one recording was easily accessible, by the Bastille Opera Orchestra and Myung-Whun Chung on Deutsche Grammophon. But here on this 2004 EMI disc, Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker give a strong performance of the work.

The work really does have all the features Messiaen is known for among its eleven movements. A long, bright brass chorale opens the work, an "Apparition of the Glorious Christ". Birdsong fills the second and third movements, while the fifth, "Abiding in love" is a long, slow adoration. The seventh movement, "The Seven Angels with the Seven Trumpets" is the most striking of the work. While Messiaen's treatment of this theme in his celebrated "Quartet for the End of Time" was a joyful dance, here it's a grim and threatening cadence marked by the occasional beating of a timpani in the wings.

Certain parts of "Eclairs" are among Messiaen's best writing. However, as a whole it suffers from a problem common to much of the composer's work: it's overlong. Most of the first half of the work is perfectly timed, even the five-minute brass chorale that opens "Eclairs" and the ten-minute "Abiding in Love" work in spite of their limited musical material. However, everything from the seventh movement seems dull and often directionless. At these moments, even the most dedicated fan of Messiaen finds his attention wandering.
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