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  • Messiaen: Quatuor pour la fin du Temps (Quartet for the End of Time); Thème et variations; Les Offrandes oubliées
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Messiaen: Quatuor pour la fin du Temps (Quartet for the End of Time); Thème et variations; Les Offrandes oubliées


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Audio CD, July 29, 2008
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 29, 2008)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Alliance
  • ASIN: B001ANZQZA
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #153,439 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Theme and Variations, for violin & piano, I/10: Cinquième Variation. Très modéré
2. Quatuor pour la fin du temps, for violin, cello, clarinet & piano, I/22: 2. Vocalise, pour l'Ange qui annonce la fin du Temps. Robust
3. Quatuor pour la fin du temps, for violin, cello, clarinet & piano, I/22: 6. Danse de la fureur, pour les sept trompettes. Décidé - Un
4. Quatuor pour la fin du temps, for violin, cello, clarinet & piano, I/22: 7. Fouillis d'arcs-en-ciel, pour l'Ange qui annonce la fin d
5. Quatuor pour la fin du temps, for violin, cello, clarinet & piano, I/22: 8. Louange à l'Immortalité de Jésus. Extrêmement lent et ten

Editorial Reviews

Review

The Gould Piano Trio, along with clarinetist Robert Plane, performs Messiaen's greatest chamber composition along with two attractive smaller pieces. Their reading of Quatuor pour la fin du Temps is notable for the musicians' sense of balance, bringing some lines to the foreground and keeping others in the shadows. Maintaining that sense of balance with this unusual ensemble is one of the marks of a performance that's transcendent rather than merely correct. Here the unusual subtlety of the dynamics and the broad palette of colors the players produce are revelatory. Plane brings exceptional finesse to the piece; his eight-minute solo is a marvel of expressiveness and absolutely clean articulation. Alice Neary has some difficulties with breaks in the impossibly high, impossibly long, and impossibly quiet sounds the cellist is required to produce, but otherwise the playing is just about immaculate. Violinist Lucy Gould and pianist Benjamin Frith make a strong case for the composer's very early Thème et variations, a marvel of post-Impressionist fervor. Les Offrandes oubliées, recorded here for the first time in Messiaen's own arrangement for piano, is less effective than the orchestral version; the slow outer sections suffer from being played on a percussive instrument with limited ability to sustain notes, but the fast middle section works as a kind of keyboard toccata. Chandos' sound is clean, intimate, and focused. -- AllMusic.com, Stephen Eddins, August 2008

Customer Reviews

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jim Shine on July 29, 2008
Format: Audio CD
In Messiaen's centenary year, here's a chance for me to renew acquaintance with his best-known work. Based on a passage from the Book of Revelation, in which an angel announces that there shall be no more Time, part of the quartet was composed while Messiaen was in a POW camp, the rest being based on music he'd already written (including the clarinet solo Abime des oiseaux, written for fellow soldier Henri Ahoka who was now a fellow prisoner). The booklet notes reject the story that the first performance was before 5,000 prisoners, saying the audience was no more than 400. Either way, it was an impressive achievement.
The quartet begins with an evocation of early-morning birdsong from clarinet and violin, underpinned by piano and cello; its mood of expectation is followed in the second movement by one of mystery, depicting the angel, framed by a loud, powerful beginning and ending. The third movement is the clarinet solo, darkly contemplative before being briefly interrupted by more bird calls and then falling back into quiet desolation. Robert Plane's clarinet sound is wonderful here - soft and smooth but with no hint of sweetness. After this darkness, the cheerful dance of the following Intermede comes as quite a contrast, but fortunately not a jarring one. At times it's like cafe music, and very much light relief, coming as it does before a long slow movement for cello and piano. This reflection on "the eternity of Jesus" is filled with a questing nature, piano chords driving the cello on through joy and rapture but never achieving any resolution as such. This is the chance for cellist Alice Neary to shine, but Benjamin Frith's contribution is also stellar.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dean R. Brierly on July 31, 2008
Format: Audio CD
There's nothing quite so exciting as hearing a piece of music for the first time, but it's also very stimulating to discover fresh interpretations of familiar works. Such is the case with Olivier Messiaen's "Les Offrandes oubliées," which up till now has existed solely in orchestral form. This new Chandos disc presents the premiere recording of the composer's version for solo piano, and the differences are as profound as they are intriguing. The orchestral recordings are, of course, glorious in and of themselves. Yet, to my ear, the austerity of the piano version better integrates the composition's ferocious middle section, with its abrupt shift of mood and tempo. The piece just seems to flow with a stronger organic unity scored for piano. If this stripped-down version sacrifices some of the emotional sound and fury of its orchestral incarnation, it generates a much more intimate and reflective mood. It's not for me to say which arrangement is superior, merely to note that both have their own particular strengths. For Messiaen fans, the piano version is a must-have, if only to make their own comparisons. This disc also presents two other famous Messiaen pieces, "Theme and variations" and "Quartet for the end of time." There are no surprises regarding instrumentation, but the Gould Piano Trio (joined by clarinetist Robert Plane for the "Quartet") manages to put its own interpretative stamp on the music. Again, this is a subjective response, but these musicians seem to privilege the lyrical impulses in these compositions slightly above their dissonant elements. I have several other versions of these pieces in my collection, and they tend to exhibit a bit cooler emotional temperature. This is not to imply that the Gould Piano Trio isn't tuned in to the more atonal side of Messiaen's aesthetic, but it does seem a bit more diligent in channeling the warmer sound colors in the composer's palette.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tym S. on September 5, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Olivier Messiaen, "Quatuor Pour La Fin Du Temps"

The title piece, "Quatuor Pour La Fin Du Temps" (Quartet For the End of Time), must have been written with that actual belief troubling the heart of its composer. Messiaen had been conscripted into the French army in 1939, then interred in a German POW camp. Faced with the insanity of war and a bleak future, he used the only four instruments available to sift through his torment with complex and richly symbolic arrangements. The 45 minute suite is a varied architecture of psychological pain and transcendent faith. Its first performance was before camp inmates who reportedly felt every nuance of it.

The suite is a challenge for players, with its demanding parts and shifting tempos and moods. But the journey is worth it for the careful listener. Its very richness could be a dense maze, but instead is a series of layered moods that can be enjoyed separately and then ultimately together. Robert Plane's stately and quixotic clarinet is a resonant thread that sutures the sad elegance of violin, cello, and piano from the Gould Piano Trio.

Also included is "Les Offrandes Oubliees", a spiritual meditation borne out of his deep faith, as well as "Theme et Variations". The latter is a beautiful piece inspired by his wife, Claire, an accomplished violinest; Variation V particularly has an aching beauty that haunts and uplifts, played wonderfully by Lucy Gould (violin) and Benjamin Frith (piano).
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