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Messiaen: Trois Petites Liturgies, Cinq Rechants / Edwards, London Sinfonietta

Release Date: 03/11/2010 
Label:  Erato   Catalog #: 91472   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Olivier Messiaen
Performer:  Rolf HindCynthia MillarNicholas SearsLeigh Nixon,   ... 
Conductor:  Terry Edwards
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London SinfoniettaLondon Sinfonietta ChorusLondon Sinfonietta Voices
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 0 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Messiaen has never written a religious work more intensely personal than the Trois petites liturgies (1946). A female chorus hymns the divinity of Jesus in an explicit marriage of the sensuous and the devotional. In his totally unselfconscious way Messiaen risks everything, including the descent to banality in the tuneless chanting of the chorus-line that opens No, 3. Here the vocal chatter, coupled with the twittering and whooping of the ondes martenot, may inspire nothing but mirthful mockery if the first two movements have not cast an irresistible spell.

The spell is certainly cast in this performance, for despite a chorus which cannot make the extended French vowels sound completely natural, there is an effortless poise
Read more to the singing (high A's included) and a cool clarity to the instrumental commentaries that disarm criticism and confirm Terry Edwards's great strengths as trainer and conductor. The recording too goes out of its way not only to avoid excess resonance but also undue closeness or dryness. Co-ordination of singers and players may not be absolutely perfect, but this is still a performance of special distinction.

The roots of the Liturgies' ecstatic contemplativeness can be clearly heard in the short early motet 0 sacrum convivium (1937), whose slowly evolving dissonances are given the ideal aura of anguished refinement by the London Sinfonietta Voices. Cinq Rechants (1948) is in some ways a pendant to the Liturgies, and is also performed with sovereign accomplishment, although here and there I sensed that the desire to avoid making these songs of passion seem effete and contrived was leading the singers into over-voluptuous vibrato and a degree of vocal melodrama. A curious mixture of the naive and the sophisticated, the Cinq Rechants may be part of Messiaen's so-called Tristan trilogy, but there is absolutely nothing of the Wagnerian art of transition here, and with so much only slightly varied repetition, understatement is preferable to exaggeration. Even so, if you go along with the approach, this is a powerfully convincing performance, recorded with outstanding fidelity to the qualities of each individual voice.

-- Gramophone [11/1991]
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Works on This Recording

Petites liturgies (3) de la Présence Divine by Olivier Messiaen
Performer:  Rolf Hind (Piano), Cynthia Millar (Ondes Martenot)
Conductor:  Terry Edwards
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Sinfonietta,  London Sinfonietta Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944; France 
Date of Recording: 08/1990 
Venue:  St Silas' Church, London 
Length: 33 Minutes 27 Secs. 
Language: French 
O sacrum convivium! by Olivier Messiaen
Conductor:  Terry Edwards
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Sinfonietta Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937; France 
Date of Recording: 08/1990 
Venue:  St Silas' Church, London 
Length: 5 Minutes 15 Secs. 
Language: Latin 
Rechants (5) by Olivier Messiaen
Performer:  Nicholas Sears (Bass), Leigh Nixon (Tenor), Gareth Roberts (Tenor),
Nicole Tibbels (Soprano), Judith Rees (Soprano), Peter Hall (Tenor),
Susan Anderson (Mezzo Soprano), Patrick Ardagh-Walter (Bass), Hazel Wood (Mezzo Soprano),
Susan Bickley (Mezzo Soprano), Elisabeth Harrison (Soprano), Michael Pearce (Bass)
Conductor:  Terry Edwards
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Sinfonietta Voices
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1949; France 
Date of Recording: 08/1990 
Venue:  St Silas' Church, London 
Length: 20 Minutes 44 Secs. 
Language: French 

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