Great review in The Whole Note (CA)
December 8, 2023
Another pianist passionate about Olivier Messiaen, has released his recent take on Vingt regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus, a 20-piece solo piano cycle which – to some enthusiasts – represents a mighty pillar of mid-century modernism. The striking Danish pianist, Kristoffer Hyldig, recorded this disc at Vor Frekser’s Church in Copenhagen during a severe pandemic lockdown in March of 2021, an ideal locale to capture the spiritual and mystical aspects of this music.
Hyldig’s approach is a one of reverence and fortitude. He comes to this work with admiration and a veritable desire to unlock its secrets. One attribute, immediately noticeable, is his command of distinct pianistic colours. He has competently etched out each movement in the cycle, allocating unique profiles, characters and sonorities. Messiaen’s keyboard music responds well to such attention and technical detail.
This devotional music has become familiar to many 21st-century audiences and divining new identity within such a score can be challenging for any interpreter. Hyldig brings integrity to his performance with an earnest smattering of detail and refinement, through articulation, dynamic shadings and intricate realization of tempo relationships. The savvy listener might also ascertain unique palettes in play, born of northern pastels and Hanseatic hues, gleaned under the high Nordic sun. Compare these to the warmer, deeper equatorial chroma of Messiaen’s southern France and the result bears novel acoustic fruit indeed. In further augmentation of such qualities, Hyldig’s 2-disc release was recorded in the immersive DXD Format. Adam Sherkin December 7th 2023