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Messiaen: Piano Works


Préludes (complete)
From the Quatre Études de rythme:
Île de feu 1
Île de feu 2
From the Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant-Jésus
Regard de la Vierge
Le baiser de l’Enfant-Jésus
Regard de l’Esprit de joie

The music of Olivier Messiaen immediately attracts our attention with its rhythm, variety of colour, technical brilliance, energy, joy, and spirituality. It is incredibly well written for the instrument, even though its difficulties may deter many a player. Audiences are rarely indifferent to it, and for many it has a very powerful effect.

The Préludes were written when Messiaen was about 20 and are remarkable pieces for one so young. They were premiered in 1931. The two ‘Islands of Fire’ are from his Quatre Études de rythme from 1950 and are dedicated to Papua New Guinea. Messiaen states that his themes are characterised ‘by the violence of the magic rites of that country’. He wrote Vingt Regards (‘Twenty Contemplations of the Child Jesus’) for his wife Yvonne Loriod. In it he uses the piano like an orchestra, demanding a huge range of dynamics, attacks, and timbres.

This CD contains Angela Hewitt’s favourite solo piano works of Messiaen, all on a single disc.

“Rarely, if ever, can Messiaen’s piano music have been played with such refinement” (Classic CD)

“A revelation” (The Scotsman)

“You don’t have to believe in paradise to know for a fact that Messiaen’s Eight Preludes are the kind of music one would hear there. To put it simply, you will adore these pieces if you like Debussy” (American Record Guide)

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