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BBC Music Magazine: (UK)The music is truly extraordinary

May 31, 2015

Christopher Dingle

BBC Music Magazine: (UK)
The music is truly extraordinary. “ Làmour et la foi” (Love and faith) presents a trinity of Messiaen`s vocal works. The explicitly religious love of Trois petites liturgies de la Présence Divine is juxtaposed with the surreal and erotic love of Cinq rechants, the short communion motet O sacrum convivium! Providing a buffer between these work`s intense emotions. It is a heady mix of rich harmonies, texts expressing fervent love, birdsongs, fluid rhythms and exotic elements (gamelan for the Litgurgies, Sanskrit- and Quechua-inspired invented words for the Rechants)
This music is also difficult, friendishly so in the Rechants. It is no small thing, therefore, to say that, in terms of accuracy of pich, harmony, rhythm and balance, this is the best sing performance on disc of these works, especially the Rechants. Moreover, it is captured in a marvelous surround sound. So why is it ultimately underwhelming?
At the time of these works, Messiaen was described as being a “Atomic bomb in contemporary music” by critic and composer Virgil Thomson, while Pierre Boulez has said there was a “wiff of Sulphur” about his activities. There is no such power, intensity or danger here and certainly no sense of ecstatic religious abandon. Far from whipping up to a frenzy, the repeated cries of “pour Nous” that close the second Liturgies become mildly excited. Sadly, given the excellent execution by the Danish forces, these performances somehow make this remarkable music seem ordinary.
Christopher Dingle, June 2015 Performance 3 Stars Recording 5 Stars

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