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Et Exspecto Resurrectionem Mortuorum & Le Tombeau

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 26, 2012
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Editorial Reviews

Olivier Messiaen's uniquely distinctive and powerfully expressive musical voice drew strength from religious faith and nature. A prestigious commission, Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum commemorates the dead of two World Wars through the transcendence of Christ's Resurrection. Scored for winds and percussion, the work is conceived for and conjures up vast spaces. Le tombeau resplendissant and Hymne are early works, but equally filled with mystery and symbolism. Fanfare magazine described Jun M+¤rkl's previous volume in this series (Po+¨mes pour Mi / 8.572174) as "the best recording around of a mesmerizing masterwork". Offspring of the Societe des Grands Concerts de Lyon, founded in 1905, the Orchestre National de Lyon became a permanent orchestra with 102 musicians in 1969, with Louis Fremaux as its first musical director. Taking over from Louis Fremaux in 1971, Serge Baudo was in charge of the orchestra until 1986 and made it a musical force to be reckoned with far beyond its home region. Jun M+¤rkl was Music Director of the orchestra from 2005 to 2011.

Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 26, 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B007WB5DI4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #273,122 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By DAVID BRYSON VINE VOICE on August 26, 2012
Format: Audio CD
This is an issue that I want to commend with as big and as numerous a five stars as I can. It's not a matter of my opinion of the music, although I am a serious Messiaen-junkie. It is not just a matter of the performance and recorded sound either, nor even of the unfailingly predictable value that Naxos offer us. What I am raving about, in my restrained way, is the imaginative selection of the three items that we have here.

Messiaen lived to the age of threescore years and twenty-four. The main number here is a big commission that he was given in the 60's for a work to commemorate the fallen in WWII. What he went for was not another requiem but an instrumental piece, in five movements and lasting half an hour, responding to biblical texts of the apocalyptic kind that sparked M's special imagination. The instrumentation is not standard: there are no strings, but a profusion of woodwind, brass and percussion. Obviously the recording had better be up to long tam-tam crescendos, great organ-simulating brass effects etc, but both the National Orchestra of Lyons and their technical personnel have no problem with any of it that I can detect in these recordings from the first decade of the current millennium.

And then for something completely different. What would you suppose a composition entitled `The Resplendent Tomb' was about, particularly such a work written by a young man of 23? If I can believe the liner note, this so-called `tomb' was the memorial to his lost youth, as he conceived the matter. That's all I know, but a man who lived to age 84, retaining his faculties, would not in the final turn-out have lost all that high a proportion of his good years, whatever Wertherish emotions he may have felt in those early times.
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The sound world of Olivier Messiaen is a highly personal one, one in which a spiritual foundation is inexorably linked with the personal reflections of the composer’s own life and the state of the worldly sphere in which he lives. It is challenging for a listener who must inevitably feel that he or she is an intruder. As I have learned more about the composer, I have come to respect him as a guide but not a leader. Perhaps no other piece in history has caused so much discussion as the Turangalila-Symphonie as it skids from the sublime to the vulgar. But, in some sense, this is the true story of 20th Century music.

As the symbolic gesture for the victims of the Second World War, Messiaen uses a personal vision of the resurrection of Christ in “Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum.” The composer’s perspective is not one of a peaceful ascendance into a spiritual reality, but one of articulated spasms of pain followed by disquieting intervals of mournful solace. I was very uncomfortable listening to this unfocused work; perhaps this is what the composer intended. Still, I do not consider this an unqualified success, since it neither moved me emotionally nor intellectually.

Le tombeau resplendissant begins savagely, and obvious to all listeners, paraphrases Stravinsky’s Le Sacre; it is meant to suggest the animus of youth and the realization of inevitability of maturity, the “tomb” of youth. This is an introspective piece that effectively conveys the psychological growth of the composer.

The conductor, Jun Markl, makes a better case for the composer’s Hymne than Chung does. While the tempo is slightly brisker, the musical line really flows in this recording.

This is a fine recording no matter the price. While the Lyon orchestra is not as accomplished as some, it can stand on its own. The real selling point is the superb conducting by Markl.
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This DDD CD can transfer you to the orchestral stage with the bass pieces alone. An old recording yes but still hard hitting.
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The best recordings of this modern masterpiece.
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