Messiaen: Poèmes pour Mi; Réveil des oiseaux; Sept haïkaï

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COMPOSERS: Messiaen
LABELS: DG
WORKS: Poèmes pour Mi; Réveil des oiseaux; Sept haïkaï
PERFORMER: Françoise Pollet (soprano), Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Joela Jones (piano) Cleveland Orchestra/Pierre Boulez
CATALOGUE NO: 453 478-2
At last! The orchestral version of Poèmes pour Mi is back in the catalogue after an absence of nearly two decades. ‘Mi’ was Messiaen’s pet name for his first wife, the violinist Claire Delbos, and he wrote the song cycle in 1936, orchestrating it one year later, as a celebration of the sacrament of marriage. Although the early foundations of Messiaen’s idiosyncratic style are more readily apparent in the version for piano and voice, this is the first work in which the composer’s distinctive orchestral voice begins to emerge.

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The catalogue has not exactly been overflowing with accounts of Réveil des oiseaux and Sept Haïkaï either. The latter is a souvenir of Messiaen’s working honeymoon in Japan with his second wife, the pianist Yvonne Loriod, while Réveil is the first and most radical of the composer’s attempts to construct an orchestral aviary. It is characteristically thought-provoking of Boulez to present three works which give little initial indication of being by the same hand. Equally typical is that the performances should be near faultless with ideal soloists and an evidently enthused orchestra. Strongly recommended. Christopher Dingle