Messiaen: Méditations sur le mystère de la Sainte Trinité

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Messiaen
LABELS: ECM
WORKS: Méditations sur le mystère de la Sainte Trinité
PERFORMER: Christopher Bowers-Broadbent (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: 437 992-2 DDD
Messiaen’s nine-movement cycle, written in 1969, brings together in a highly concentrated form many of the elements that make up his style. Birdsong, religious symbolism and his own codified musical language are used freely, but within tight-knit, repetitive structures.

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The key to interpreting Messiaen’s mature style is by creating space, which gives the musical text room to breathe freely and flexibly. Not easy when much of the score is highly intricate and the composer himself gives detailed instructions on matters of phrasing and colours to be used.

Bowers-Broadbent has clearly lived with this music for some time. There is a strong sense of internal shape and logic about his playing, and his choice of tempi, such a vital component in Messiaen’s music, lends weight to the rich symbolism. My single complaint concerns a rather rigid treatment of the plainsong sections.

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In many ways, this release complements Gillian Weir’s much-lauded performance on Collins. Both organs create a wonderful sound-world for Messiaen’s music, and both players have plenty to say in their own interpretations. Stephen Haylett