Messiaen: Organ Works: Livre d’orgue; Monodie; Méditations sur le mystère de la Sainte Trinité

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COMPOSERS: Messiaen
LABELS: Delphian
ALBUM TITLE: Messiaen
WORKS: Organ Works: Livre d’orgue; Monodie; Méditations sur le
mystère de la Sainte Trinité
PERFORMER: Michael Bonaventure (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: DCD 34016

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When, in 1931, Messiaen applied for his post as organist at La Trinité, he wrote to the curate to reassure him that he knew that ‘one must not disturb the piety of the faithful with wildly anarchic chords’. It is not known whether that curate was at La Trinité 20 years later, but it is hard to think of a more appropriate characterisation of the effect of Livre d’orgue than ‘wildly anarchic’, while Alexander Goehr has recalled how Messiaen’s organ-playing during the mid-1950s sounded like electronics. Michael Bonaventure’s playing may not have that effect, but he does get Messiaen’s music to lift off the page, even in the most rigorous pages of the Livre d’orgue. The organ of St Giles, Edinburgh, generally has the power and range of colour needed, with the fierce chords at the opening of ‘Les mains de l’abîme’ fizzing with tension. Slightly more power from the pedals would be welcome, notably in the dazzling central section of the fifth of the Méditations sur le mystère de la Sainte Trinité. Generally, though, this is a delight for the ears. Far from sluggish, Bonaventure does not allow himself to be rushed in this magnificent cycle. This is not Messiaen the experimenter, but the musical theologian, and Bonaventure captures him well. Christopher Dingle