The official Olivier Messiaen Homepage "Throughout, Marcus Creed shows great depth of understanding Messiaen's sound world and this, together with excellent recording technology and CD presentation makes for a very rewarding listening experience from this enterprising and high quality label".
The official Olivier Messiaen Homepage
NEW RELEASE - Trois petites liturgies de la Présence divine, O sacrum convivium! Cinq Rechants. Conductor Marcus Creed The Danish National Concert Choir, Danish National Vocal Ensemble and The Danish National Chamber Orchestra, Marianna Shirinyan (Piano) and Thomas Bloch (ondes Martenot) April 2015 Our Recordings, Catalogue No: 6.220612 UPC: 747313161263.
L'amour et la foi explores the vocal music written by Messiaen within, more or less, a ten year period beginning in 1937 with O sacrum convivium the only work where Messiaen uses an original liturgical text. Marcus Creed and the Danish National Vocal Ensemble and Concert Choir make the most of Messiaen early modal colours where voices are finely balanced and dynamically phrased creating a harmonic mist where one can almost smell the incense.
This contrasts magnificently with the somewhat unsettling Cinq Rechants. If O sacrum convivium is one of Messiaen's most performed and approachable choral works, Cinq Rechants is the exact opposite requiring great virtuosity and vocal gymnastics tackled by only the most secure professional choirs and thus probably the least performed of Messiaen's choral works. I say 'unsettling' because this work is complex on many different levels, not only the technical aspects of rhythmic and vocal pyrotechnics but this work was composed (in 1948) at a time when Messiaen's domestic life was at an emotional peak. During its compostion, his first wife Claire Delbos underwent an operation that incurred complications and would later be blamed for the drastic deterioration in her memory. Her erratic behavior made life chaotic and increasingly difficult for Messiaen to compose and he often feared for the safety of his manuscripts but this was the climate in which Cinq Rechants was written. It was of course also part of what is known as Messiaen's Tristan trilogy (Harawi - Turangalila Symphonie and Cinq Rechants). The trilogy in his private life being himself, Claire Delbos and Yvonne Loriod. This heady and potent emotional mix manifests itself in Cinq Rechants with its invented language, percussive incantations and folkloristic chantings alongside the most heartfelt and 'caressant' love song moments. Creed and his choir rise admirably to these challenges with a broad and varied palette of colours and expressive hues. I just felt a little temporal caution in the opening Rechant that didn't always allow the 'stella fury' to fully flourish and the male tk tk tk percussion a little too polite. The balance and focus of the soft organ-like chords in No.3 are exquisite and the solo soprano floats effortlessly with broad breadth of phrase throughout. This is a highly polished performance recorded in a fine acoustic, but sometimes a little 'dare' and abrasion is needed to offset the polish.
Much has been written about the furore surrounding the first performance of Trois petites liturgies de la Présence divine in 1945 claiming the inappropriate nature of the music in a religious context so I will leave it up to the reader to persue (or not) this avenue. The fact is that Messiaen weaves a dense and often powerful sound world by using a relatively small combination of instrumental resourses a concept that would re-emerge in Des Canyons aux etoiles... many years later in 1974. A mark of a true craftsman. Trois petite liturgies uses female choir, small string section, minimal percussion, vibraphone, celeste, piano and Ondes Martenot and again in this recording everything is heard with crystaline clarity and colouful balance. Marianna Shirinyan's piano demonstrates just the right amount of improvisational quality in the birdsong passages while Thomas Bloch's Ondes weaves mysteriously with violin counterpoint in movement 1 and sensuously in movement 3 with choir and cushioned strings. Throughout, Marcus Creed shows great depth of understanding Messiaen's sound world and this, together with excellent recording technology and CD presentation makes for a very rewarding listening experience from this enterprising and high quality label.