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Olivier Messiaen
La Nativité du Seigneur РNine Meditations for Organ, composed in 1935

1. La Vierge et l’Enfant (The Virgin and Child)
2.  Les Bergers (The Shepherds)
3. Desseins éternels (Eternal Designs)
4. Le Verbe (The Word)
5. Les Enfants de Dieu (The Children of God)
6. Les Anges (The Angels)
7. Jésus accepte la souffrance (Jesus accepts His Sufferings)
8. Les Mages (The Wise Men)
9. Dieu parmi nous (God among Us)

Olivier Messiaen, Innovative Modernist, Devout believer ©
by Erik Christensen

The music of Messiaen is overpowerng and seductjve. It delights the senses and challenges the mind; it calls forth emotions both peaceful and violent; it dissolves time into a floating state and creates a multidimensional space of subtle sounds, hamonic colours, and melodic movement. lt also encompasses great contrasts, from luscious harmonies to harsh cacophonic effects. Simple melodies stand side by side with complex music in many layers. There are minute nuances and provocative contrasts, and there are tones that rise to extreme heights and fall to bottomless depths.
Olivier Messiaen was born in Avignon in the South of France on December 10, 1908 and died in Paris on April 28 1992. He began to compose at the age of eight, became a conservatory student when he was eleven, and was appointed organist of the Church of the Holy Trinity in Paris at 23. As a professor of musical analysis and composition at the conservatory in Paris he excerted decisive influence on several generations of composers both French and foreign.
Messiaen composes in the Western European tradition but renews that tradition from within: he transgresses its boundaries by virtue of his rhythmic and harmonic innovations as well as his experiments with thc potential of the musical material at hand. He is a French musician, yet at the same time a musician of the world: his music integrates Indian rhythms, South American melodies, the sound of Balinese gamelan orchestras and of Japanese gagaku music, and birdsong from five continents.

In the 1930s and 1940s Messiaen invented his own scales and rhythns. He called the scales “modes with limited transpositions”. They consist of small unifomly constructed groups of tones, which means they can only be subjected to a few transpositions as opposed to the major or minor scale that can be transposed to twelve different keys. These modes constitute the basis of melodies and harmonies with a profile clearly distinct from major/minor music. Messiaen uses his modal harmony to compose sounds with characteristic chord colours. harmonies that connect back to the chromaticism of Gesualdo and Monteverdi three centuries earlier in the historv of music.
Messiaen avoides fixed metre that divides up music into bars of equal length. Instead he devises rhythms and rhythmic patterns that impart a sense of time floating or almost standing still. He composes flexible and pliant metrical forms by adding small note-values that create irregularity, by composing symmetrical rhythms that are identical from front and back, and by combining Indian and Greek rhythms in pattems and chains of longer or shorter duration.

RELEASE DATE: November 1997


EAN: 5709499476000