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Messiaen: The Organ Works Vol 1 / Gillian Weir

Release Date: 10/28/2003 
Label:  Priory Records   Catalog #: 921   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Olivier Messiaen
Performer:  Gillian Weir
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 15 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Classic performances from Dame Gillian that should reclaim their definitive status.

In May last year I reviewed two box sets of Messiaen’s complete organ music: the budget-price reissue by Regis of Jennifer Bate’s cycle from the 1980s (originally on Unicorn Kanchana), and Oliver Latry’s full-price DG set, newly recorded at Notre Dame de Paris, and even more complete than any predecessor in that it included three brief, previously unrecorded compositions. Many collectors will have wondered at the time how long it would be before Dame Gillian Weir’s highly-regarded performances, issued on Collins Classics in 1994, would resurface, and Priory is now beginning to make the complete cycle available on separate medium-price
Read more discs (with one double-disc album to conclude) over the next year or so.

Even collectors who would prefer to have the complete set released at once, to facilitate comparison with the rivals, are likely to concede that these performances remain outstanding. Remastered, the recordings made in Århus Cathedral are a model of how to combine atmosphere and clarity in this music, and no other player seems quite to equal Weir’s remarkable identification with the reflective and dramatically explosive extremes of Messiaen’s idiom.

At the risk of being accused of heresy, I must admit to doubting whether La Nativité du Seigneur really works as a compositional whole, given the surely undeniable imbalance between mediative and more dynamic music. But Gillian Weir evidently has no doubts, sustaining the long, quiet episodes with particular sensitivity and irresistible conviction: if you are to perform the work complete, this is how it has to be.

So, despite the achievements of both Latry and Bate across the full range of Messiaen’s organ works, it looks as if Gillian Weir’s performances will again claim the definitive status which they were accorded on their earlier incarnation. A further attraction comes in the extensive booklet notes, which centre on those written by Weir herself, underlining the reasons why this music matters so much to her, and also including a wealth of personal anecdote.

-- Arnold Whittall, Gramophone [2/2003]
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Works on This Recording

Apparition de l'église éternelle by Olivier Messiaen
Performer:  Gillian Weir (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1932; France 
La nativité du Seigneur by Olivier Messiaen
Performer:  Gillian Weir (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935; France 
Le banquet céleste by Olivier Messiaen
Performer:  Gillian Weir (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928; France 

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