Paavo Järvi inaugurates his new contract as conductor of the Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich with a programme devoted to Messiaen. Alpha Classics will accompany this extremely promising combination: "I’ve always admired French music very much. (...) I think Messiaen is the most original voice, someone absolutely unique. You need only listen for three seconds to a work by Messiaen to be sure that it is by him. His style is so clear, so unmistakable. In his two early works Les Offrandes oubliées and Le Tombeau resplendissant, religion and mysticism play an important role. If you listen carefully, you will notice how a harmony is continually transformed, so that you can never predict what sound will come next. But Messiaen’sRead more harmonic language is not experimental: it produces an inevitable meaning, and you get the feeling that the chord sequence can be that way and no other. Music is a language of its own; music begins where words leave off."
Järvi has the full measure of L'Ascension. He sustains momentum and tension through some tricky, slow metronome marks and draws a sumptuously appointed weight of sound from the Tonhalle strings.
This is the first recording to do full justice to Le tombeau resplendissant. The piece emerges not as an inferior sequel to Les offrandes oubliées but as a powerful and deeply personal symphonic poem in its own right, precociously establishing Messiaen’s orchestral voice for all the evident debts to Franck in form, Scriabin in harmony and Berlioz in orchestration – hardly negligible models to follow.
The Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich is finest form, providing focused playing of remarkable clarity of texture and expressive phrasing. Overall, Järvi’s requirement for accuracy and attention to detail has commendable integrity, essential in this music.