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Messiaen: Complete Organ Works / Olivier Latry


Release Date: 10/08/2002 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 471480   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Olivier Messiaen
Performer:  Olivier Latry
Number of Discs: 6 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 7 Hours 6 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Messiaen's organ works run like a golden thread through his career, from its beginnings right up to its end. They thus offer the best way to trace the development of this remarkable composer's personal musical language. Of course for those who couldn't care less about such things, rest assured that despite their forbidding reputation, these largely meditative pieces contain plenty of immediately attractive, beautiful music. In fact, up until about 1951 when he embraced his own unique sort of 12-note technique (in Livre d'orgue), works such as L'ascension, La Nativité du Seigneur, the very Debussian Apparition de l'Eglise éternelle, Les corps glorieux, and the plainsong-based Messe de la Pentecôte offer little that's more Read more difficult than anything in the now-popular Turangalila-Symphonie or the Quartet for the End of Time (the last movement of which was actually borrowed from the Diptyque for organ). After that, life gets more complicated, but being able to take the pieces in chronological order certainly helps, and it's worth noting that the aforementioned Livre d'orgue is about as purely "difficult" as Messiaen ever got.


Recordings of organ music depend for their success as much on the instrument as on the person playing it. A complete set of Messiaen's organ music exists on the Jade label, performed by six different organists on the composer's "own" instrument at Paris' Trinity Church. Like that instrument, the organ in Notre-Dame Cathedral as it exists today is largely the product of the legendary French builder Aristide Cavaillé-Coll. It's had its good days and bad over the centuries. Record collectors will recall a particularly excruciating outing in the early years of digital sonics when the instrument was tracked into Herbert von Karajan's bloated rendition of Saint-Saëns' Organ Symphony. On that occasion, listeners might be forgiven for thinking that the instrument was built by Pratt & Whitney rather than Cavaillé-Coll, but as recorded here it sounds splendid. There's still that huge, reedy tone when the great organ blasts forth, but it no longer sounds like white noise, and definite pitches are seldom obscured, even in Messiaen's most dense harmonic clusters.


Olivier Latry certainly has the chops for this music. Indeed, devotees might even criticize him for an excess of enthusiasm. After all, the one thing the organ can do as can no other instrument is sustain notes at even volume indefinitely, and Messiaen exploits this capability to the fullest. Latry's, though, are generally swift performances. Compare him, for example, to Rudolf Innig (MDG) in Livre du Saint Sacrement, and he's almost uniformly faster by a minute or two in each movement. For some, this inevitably will mean less awe-inspiring grandeur. For others, it will be a blessed relief and mean less aural fatigue over time (and for what it's worth, Latry only requires six very well filled discs rather than most other sets' seven). The relatively rapid speeds do entail a small sacrifice of rhythmic clarity in the most complex passages, such as the two trios in Livre d'orgue, but elsewhere Latry's obvious enjoyment, wonderfully colorful registrations, and consistently shapely articulation certainly reward sustained attention. He's helped by really fine recorded sound, roomy yet present, and completely lacking those irritating mechanical noises that figure so prominently in many other organ recordings. In short, Latry makes this music fall easily and gratefully on the ear, and that in itself is an achievement of the first order.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Le banquet céleste by Olivier Messiaen
Performer:  Olivier Latry (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928; France 
Date of Recording: 07/2000 
Venue:  Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France 
Length: 7 Minutes 4 Secs. 
2.
Diptyque for Organ by Olivier Messiaen
Performer:  Olivier Latry (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1930; France 
Date of Recording: 07/2000 
Venue:  Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France 
Length: 11 Minutes 22 Secs. 
3.
La nativité du Seigneur by Olivier Messiaen
Performer:  Olivier Latry (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935; France 
Date of Recording: 07/2000 
Venue:  Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France 
Length: 62 Minutes 58 Secs. 
4.
Les corps glorieux by Olivier Messiaen
Performer:  Olivier Latry (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1939; France 
Date of Recording: 07/2000 
Venue:  Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France 
Length: 55 Minutes 3 Secs. 
5.
Apparition de l'église éternelle by Olivier Messiaen
Performer:  Olivier Latry (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1932; France 
Date of Recording: 07/2000 
Venue:  Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France 
Length: 9 Minutes 45 Secs. 
6.
Méditations sur le mystère de la Sainte Trinité by Olivier Messiaen
Performer:  Olivier Latry (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1969; France 
Date of Recording: 07/2000 
Venue:  Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France 
Length: 72 Minutes 20 Secs. 
7.
Verset pour la fête de la dédicace by Olivier Messiaen
Performer:  Olivier Latry (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1960; France 
Date of Recording: 07/2000 
Venue:  Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France 
Length: 8 Minutes 3 Secs. 
8.
Messe de la Pentecôte by Olivier Messiaen
Performer:  Olivier Latry (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1950; France 
Date of Recording: 07/2000 
Venue:  Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France 
Length: 28 Minutes 34 Secs. 
9.
Livre d'orgue by Olivier Messiaen
Performer:  Olivier Latry (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1951; France 
Date of Recording: 07/2000 
Venue:  Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France 
Length: 44 Minutes 52 Secs. 
10.
Livre du Saint Sacrement by Olivier Messiaen
Performer:  Olivier Latry (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1984; France 
Date of Recording: 07/2000 
Venue:  Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France 
Length: 101 Minutes 40 Secs. 
11.
Offrande au Saint Sacrement by Olivier Messiaen
Performer:  Olivier Latry (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1930-1935; France 
Date of Recording: 07/2000 
Venue:  Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France 
Length: 5 Minutes 6 Secs. 
12.
Monodie by Olivier Messiaen
Performer:  Olivier Latry (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1963; France 
Date of Recording: 07/2000 
Venue:  Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France 
Length: 2 Minutes 53 Secs. 
13.
Prelude for Organ by Olivier Messiaen
Performer:  Olivier Latry (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: France 
Date of Recording: 07/2000 
Venue:  Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France 
Length: 9 Minutes 0 Secs. 
14.
L'Ascension, 4 Meditations for Organ by Olivier Messiaen
Performer:  Olivier Latry (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934; France 
Date of Recording: 07/2000 
Venue:  Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France 
Length: 27 Minutes 13 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Apparition de l'Église Éternelle
La Nativité du Seigneur: 1. La Vierge et l'Enfant
La Nativité du Seigneur: 2. Les Bergers
La Nativité du Seigneur: 3. Desseins Eternels
La Nativité du Seigneur: 4. Le Verbe
La Nativité du Seigneur: 5. Les Enfants de Dieu
La Nativité du Seigneur: 6. Les Anges
La Nativité du Seigneur: 7. Jésus accepte la Souffrance
La Nativité du Seigneur: 8. Les mages
La Nativité du Seigneur: 9. Dieu parmi nous
Le banquet céleste
Offrande au Saint Sacrement
Diptyque
Les corps glorieux (1939) / Book 1: 1. Subtilité des corps glorieux
Les corps glorieux (1939) / Book 1: 2. Les Eaux de la Grace
Les corps glorieux (1939) / Book 1: 3. L'Ange aux Parfums
Les corps glorieux (1939) / Book 2: 1. Combat de la Mort et de la Vie
Les corps glorieux (1939) / Book 3: 1. Force et Agilité des Corps Glorieux
Les corps glorieux (1939) / Book 3: 2. Joie et Clarté des Corps Glorieux
Les corps glorieux (1939) / Book 3: 3. Le Mystère de la Sainte Trinité

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