Messiaen: La nativite du Seigneur, Le banquet celeste, Apparition de l’eglise eternelle

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COMPOSERS: Messiaen
LABELS: Calliope
ALBUM TITLE: Messiaen
WORKS: La nativite du Seigneur, Le banquet celeste, Apparition de l’eglise eternelle
PERFORMER: Louis Thiry
CATALOGUE NO: CAL 4928
When this recording first appeared,

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accounts of Messiaen’s first proper

organ cycle, La nativité du Seigneur,

could be counted on one hand with

fingers to spare. This pioneering

performance has been rightly fêted,

but the bar has been raised in the past

30 years. Moreover, Messiaen’s music

often brings the best out of organists, and the nine meditations of La

nativité are no exception.

Still, Thiry has a formidable

instrument, the Metzler organ at

Saint-Pierre in Geneva, which is up to

the task of capturing the full palette of

Messiaen’s registrations. This would

be to no avail were it not for Thiry’s

own impressive credentials in this

repertoire as well as a recording that

was not far from demonstration class

at the time. There’s an atmosphere

of hushed expectancy in ‘La vièrge et

l’Enfant’ and brutal power in ‘Jésus

accepte la souffrance’. That said,

the Epiphany could be a week later

judging by his plodding ‘Les mages’.

As well as the reissue of Messiaen’s

own performance (EMI), Thiry has

been overtaken by more recent ones.

Jennifer Bate (Regis), Gillian Weir

(Priory) and Oliver Latry (DG), each

have more vibrancy. Alongside these,

Thiry sounds straitlaced in ‘Dieu

parmi nous’, and this isn’t polite

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music. Christopher Dingle