Sunday, March 9, 2014

Yvonne Loriod Plays Olivier Messiaen - Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant-Jésus

Olivier Messiaen's Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant Jésus (20 Contemplations of the Infant Jesus) are a towering specimen of twentieth century pianism. The work lasts more than two hours on those rare occasions when performed - as Messiaen intended the pieces to be - as a complete cycle. Written in 1944 and premiered the following year by Messiaen's wife Yvonne Loriod, whose masterful early performances and recordings of Messiaen's piano works did tremendous amount to bring his music to a wider audience in the 1950s and 1960s, the Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant Jésus plunge into the raw depths of Messiaen's Christian faith ; the scintillating and frighteningly (but exhilaratingly) virtuosic fast movements prove once again how primal and joyful Messiaen's religion was to him, and the slow movements touch the sublime in ways that perhaps no composer of Western sacred or sacred-inspired music since J.S. Bach has managed with quite the same steadfast selflessness.
In this composition Messiaen created perhaps the quintessential twentieth century Christmas suite for piano. In it, he contemplates virtually all the figures associated with the story of the Nativity, and with many of the theological implications of the same event. Some of the movements are tender; others are full of roaring power, as Messiaen turns his attention to cosmic implications.
The Vingt Regards are brilliantly chromatic music ; the work is, for many, the high point of Messiaen's so-called early period (which is usually considered to have ended with the Turangalîla-symphonie of 1946-1948). A number of symbolic musical motives appear throughout the score, creating a basic-level cyclicism ; the most important of these is the God theme that we first hear in the very slow No. 1 "Regard du Père" and which then returns to prominence every few movements -- specifically, every five. The Vingt Regards are built as four groups of five pieces, but there are many other numerological schemes employed that overlap with that basic pentastyle design -- Messiaen himself explained some of these meaningful uses of number in a preface to the score. The score falls into two halves, the first of which features the electrifying fugal outburst of No. 6, "Par Lui tout a été fait," and the second of which concludes with the magnificent musical and spiritual peroration of No. 20, "Regard de l'église d'amour" -- a true peroration that recalls and reshapes many of the events of the past two hours, and music of extraordinary power.
Blair Johnston

Source :

Yvonne Loriod
Olivier Messiaen
Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant-Jésus


Cd. 1

1 I. Regard du Père  5:28
Extrêmement lent - Mystérieux avec amour
2 II. Regard de l'Etoile  2:59
3 III. L'Echange  3:38
Bien modéré
4 IV. Regard de la Vierge  4:59
Bien modéré
5 V. Regard du Fils sur le Fils  5:44
Très lent
6 VI. Par Lui tout a été fait  10:34
Modéré - Presque vif
7 VII. Regard de la Croix  4:02
Bien modéré
8 VIII. Regard des hauteurs  2:29
9 IX. Regard du Temps  3:08
10 X. Regard de l'Esprit de Joie  8:47
Presque vif
11 XI. Première communion de la Vierge  7:17
Très lent


Cd. 2

1 XII. La Parole toute-puissante  2:57
Un peu vif
2 XIII. Noël  4:10
Très vif - Joyeux
3 XIV. Regard des Anges  4:51
Très vif - Modéré
4 XV. Le Baiser de l'Enfant-Jésus  10:16
Très calme - Calme - Modéré
5 XVI. Regard des prophètes, des bergers et des mages  2:50
6 XVII. Regard du silence  5:10
Très Modéré
7 XVIII. Regard de l'Onction terrible  6:49
Modéré - Solennel mais un peu vif
8 XIX. Je dors, mais mon coeur veille  9:53
9 XX. Regard de l'Eglise d'amour  12:53
Presque vif - Presque lent - Vif - Très lent - Solennel 


Yvonne Loriot - p

Recorded at Eglise Notre-Dame du Liban, Paris ; October 1973


Melanchthon said...

fcapeau said...

This association is one of the most fruitful of the 20th century.
Many thanks, Mel.