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Messiaen: Quartet for the End of Time

25 customer reviews

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Audio CD, August 11, 1989
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$11.48 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details Only 7 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

Messiaen: Quartet for the End of Time + Bartok: Concerto for Orchestra; Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta; Hungarian Sketches + Stravinsky Conducts Stravinsky: Symphony of Psalms; Symphony in C; Symphony in Three Movements
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Editorial Reviews

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This all-star chamber ensemble was specifically formed to play Messiaen's masterpiece. Two decades after this recording was made, it still shows the effects of their intense identification with the music. Some listeners find Messiaen's music longwinded and difficult, and my own opinion varies depending on the work and my mood. But this piece, written in a German concentration camp during the early years of World War II, is truly one of the greatest works of music of the 20th century. Although it lasts nearly an hour, its variety of color and its powerful expressiveness will engross any responsive listener, especially in this performance. --Leslie Gerber


Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
  1. Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps: Liturgie de cristalTashi;Peter Serkin;Ida Kavafian;Fred Sherry;Richard Stoltzman 2:24$0.99  Buy MP3 
  2. Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps: Vocalise, pour l' Ange qui annonce la fin du TempsTashi;Peter Serkin;Ida Kavafian;Fred Sherry;Richard Stoltzman 5:26$0.99  Buy MP3 
  3. Abîme des oiseauxTashi;Peter Serkin;Ida Kavafian;Fred Sherry;Richard Stoltzman 7:40$0.99  Buy MP3 
  4. Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps: IntermèdeTashi;Peter Serkin;Ida Kavafian;Fred Sherry;Richard Stoltzman 1:51$0.99  Buy MP3 
  5. Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps: Louange à l' Éternité de JésusTashi;Peter Serkin;Ida Kavafian;Fred Sherry;Richard Stoltzman 7:45$0.99  Buy MP3 
  6. Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps: Danse de la fureur, pour les sept trompettesTashi;Peter Serkin;Ida Kavafian;Fred Sherry;Richard Stoltzman 6:19$0.99  Buy MP3 
  7. Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps: Fouillis d' arcs-en-ciel, pour l' Ange qui annonce la fin du TempsTashi;Peter Serkin;Ida Kavafian;Fred Sherry;Richard Stoltzman 7:11$0.99  Buy MP3 
  8. Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps: Louange à l' Immortalité de JésusTashi;Peter Serkin;Ida Kavafian;Fred Sherry;Richard Stoltzman 8:11$0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Performer: Tashi Quartet, Peter Serkin, Richard Stolzman, Ida Kavafian, Fred Sherry
  • Composer: Olivier Messiaen
  • Audio CD (August 11, 1989)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: RCA
  • ASIN: B000003ERU
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #55,811 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 49 people found the following review helpful By DAVID BRYSON VINE VOICE on July 2, 2005
Format: Audio CD
The prodigiously gifted son of an even more prodigious father, Peter Serkin has shown a special interest in Messiaen very like the interest his father showed in Reger. I gather that he and his three collaborators here formed the group Tashi specifically to perform this piece. Their account has always had the status of a classic. Other fine performances have come on to the scene since 1976, but as I myself have recently come by a particularly good and eloquent effort not available on its own, I thought it might be worth seeing how the Tashi version justified its eminence a quarter of a century on. Coming quickly to the bottom line, I would say that any collector looking for only one version of the work need have no second thoughts about acquiring this one. There are things I myself prefer in other versions and there are things that I still like best in this. It is all really a matter of fine detail and any listener's individual temperament.

The work was composed and first performed in a prisoner-of-war camp during WWII. What it may prove regarding the triumph of good over evil in this world I do not propose to assess. To me, it is certainly a musical statement in some senses, but not in quite that sense. What Messiaen's music, in bad times as well as in good, always expresses is his unshakable and semi-mystical Catholic faith. Whatever his circumstances, even these, he felt and saw everything against the backdrop of eternity as his faith defined that. In happier times his music has a sense of relaxation and even of self-indulgence that are naturally absent here, but he is never introverted. His vision is always looking to the far side, and for me music, however and wherever it originated, is still just music.
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263 of 286 people found the following review helpful By happydogpotatohead on July 6, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Messaien wrote "Quartet for the End of Time" in a Nazi prison camp. This work was first performed by half-starved prisoners on broken instruments, to an audience of arrogant Nazi prison camp guards and officials, and the people they had enslaved in the name of the Third Reich.
The work that Messaien composed in the face of this titanic evil was not a work of anger or bitterness. It was not a work of resignation to an inevitable fate or a hymn to depression. Messaien chose to represent, musically, the end of all things, as described in the Book of Revelations in the Bible. In its austerity and its serenity, the Quartet informs the Nazis: You are in control now, in this place, at this time, but your control is not absolute. Your Reich will not last 1000 years. You may attempt whatever you like and kill millions, but your time will be done, and you will be banished to nothingness.
Messaien hid his message behind the context of the Book of Revelations, which he interpreted not in the fashion of modern day "born again" fundamentalists, but in a mystical way, as a spiritual event that had resonance in his time. What was Hitler but an Anti-Christ, a beast attempting to set himself up as a God? Messaien called upon the power of the Word and set it to music, a music that was intended to work as a memory of redemption, a reminder that evil cannot, and will not, triumph over good no matter how profound the evil may be. It is also the sound of a man calling on his God to avenge the evil that has overtaken the world. If the Nazis had truly known what Messaien was telling them, they would have shot him.
Musically, Messaien was forced to write the Quartet for the instruments he had available to him.
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77 of 83 people found the following review helpful By John Ellis on March 17, 2004
Format: Audio CD
In the March 22, 2004 issue of The New Yorker, music critic Alex Ross shares the fascinating story of the origins and first performance in January, 1941 of Quartet for the End of Time during Messiaen's confinement as a prisoner of war in Stalag VIIIA. (I'd urge you to read this compelling and brief article, as well as Rebecca Rischin's book "For the End of Time: The Story of the Messiaen Quartet.")
Ross takes a moment to single out this recording as the finest of this work, saying: "The group Tashi achieved [the total unanimity that makes a great performance of the Quartet seem like a mind-reading seance] in an as yet unsurpassed recording on the RCA label."
The last sentences of the Ross piece are wonderful: "This is the music of one who expects paradise not only in a single awesome hereafter but also in the happenstance epiphanies of daily life. In the end, Messiaen's apocalypse has little to do with history and catastrophe; instead, it records the rebirth of an ordinary soul in the grip of extraordinary emotion. Which is why the Quartet is as overpowering now as it was on that frigid night in 1941."
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Melvyn M. Sobel on February 25, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Prophetic, restless, passionate, sad and fervently devout music from a 1941 stalag-imprisoned Messiaen [1908-1992], this 1975 recording continues to remain a constant source of revelation and wonder for me. In their groundbreaking performance, Serkin, Kavafian, Sherry and Stoltzman mine this work for every ounce of its endless value--- coaxing a phrase to shimmer, dwelling within a movement's infinite sorrow, or opening a vein of evocative spirituality--- and at all times retain a shattering clarity of vision that both penetrates and humbles. As the ensemble known as Tashi, these superb musicians bring an otherworldly ambience to a chamber work aptly named, and with their devotion, exemplary craftsmanship, technique and concentration they persuade most powerfully. The sound given the artists is as truthful, lean, and haunting as their performance.

[Running time: 47:25]
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