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Messiaen: Vingt Regards Sur L'enfant-jesus (Selections)

Messiaen / Hirsch
Release Date: 09/11/2012 
Label:  Msr   Catalog #: 1433   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Olivier Messiaen
Performer:  Evan Hirsch
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 59 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



MESSIAEN Vingt regards sur l’enfant-Jésus: Nos. 1, 4, 10, 11, 14, 15, 19 Evan Hirsch (pn) MSR CLASSICS MS1433 (58:41)


Messiaen’s Vingt regards sur l’enfant-Jésus were composed in 1944 and are among the earliest pieces he wrote for his future wife, Yvonne Loriod. They illuminate aspects of the childhood of Christ as Messiaen understood it from his heavily doctrinal Roman Catholic upbringing. Not that this is Read more childhood music like that of Schumann or Debussy, or respectful and soothing in the manner of Berlioz’s L’enfance du Christ : some of it, such as No. 14, Regard des anges , is savagely dissonant.


Although the Regards are categorized not as a suite but as a collection of pieces, this disc offers us a selection of only seven movements. American pianist Evan Hirsch writes that these are movements he has programmed over the years. That’s fine for a concert program, and often it’s acceptable on disc to mix’n’match (as in Frederik Ullén’s excellent new compilation of Liszt and Messiaen), but I would have thought anyone investing in this music would prefer the complete set. There are several fine performances available, such as those from Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Stephen Osborne, or if you can find them, Peter Serkin, and Loriod herself. Nevertheless I won’t be parting with this selection, primarily because Hirsch is such a sensitive Messiaen pianist. How well he balances the soft chords of the chorale, with its Ravelian tolling bell notes, that constitute No. 1, Regard du Père (here programmed as the fourth track). Occasional sprays of decorative notes, notably in Le baiser de l’enfant-Jésus , display the poise and color one imagines Michaelangeli might have brought to this music.


When Messiaen set out to express the power of God in a piano work, he often pushed the instrument beyond its dynamic extremes. At the loud end of the spectrum, any pianist has to take care not to dissolve into relentless bashing of the keyboard, which simply results in the composer’s apocalyptic vision sounding silly or bombastic. Hirsch retains admirable control of his triple and quadruple forte s and is even more impressive at the opposite dynamic extreme, where most of this music sits. If there is a minor complaint, it is that certain notes of his instrument seem to have lost tuning during the vigorous and energetic Regard de l’Esprit de joie.


So for what it is this disc is recommended, but the question remains: are seven Regards enough? If you think so, you’ll find Hirsch’s ordering of the pieces makes sense in terms of musical contrast and variety.


FANFARE: Phillip Scott    
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Works on This Recording

1.
Vingt regards sur l'enfant Jésus: no 15, Le baiser de l'enfant Jésus by Olivier Messiaen
Performer:  Evan Hirsch (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944; France 
Date of Recording: 2005-08 
Venue:  Spaulding Auditorium, Hopkins Center, Da 
Length: 10 Minutes 54 Secs. 
2.
Vingt regards sur l'enfant Jésus: no 14, Regard des anges by Olivier Messiaen
Performer:  Evan Hirsch (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944; France 
Date of Recording: 2005-08 
Venue:  Spaulding Auditorium, Hopkins Center, Da 
Length: 5 Minutes 15 Secs. 
3.
Vingt regards sur l'enfant Jésus: no 4, Regard de la vierge by Olivier Messiaen
Performer:  Evan Hirsch (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944; France 
Date of Recording: 2005-08 
Venue:  Spaulding Auditorium, Hopkins Center, Da 
Length: 5 Minutes 20 Secs. 
4.
Vingt regards sur l'enfant Jésus: no 1, Regard du Père by Olivier Messiaen
Performer:  Evan Hirsch (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944; France 
Date of Recording: 2005-08 
Venue:  Spaulding Auditorium, Hopkins Center, Da 
Length: 8 Minutes 41 Secs. 
5.
Vingt regards sur l'enfant Jésus: no 10, Regard de l'esprit de joie by Olivier Messiaen
Performer:  Evan Hirsch (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944; France 
Date of Recording: 2005-08 
Venue:  Spaulding Auditorium, Hopkins Center, Da 
Length: 10 Minutes 4 Secs. 
6.
Vingt regards sur l'enfant Jésus: no 11, Première communion de la Vierge by Olivier Messiaen
Performer:  Evan Hirsch (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944; France 
Date of Recording: 2005-08 
Venue:  Spaulding Auditorium, Hopkins Center, Da 
Length: 8 Minutes 5 Secs. 
7.
Vingt regards sur l'enfant Jésus: no 19, Je dors, mais mon coeur veille by Olivier Messiaen
Performer:  Evan Hirsch (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944; France 
Date of Recording: 2005-08 
Venue:  Spaulding Auditorium, Hopkins Center, Da 
Length: 10 Minutes 17 Secs. 

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