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Cat. No. CHAN 10480 Price: £0 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10480 - Messiaen: Chamber Works
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Available From: 01 July 2008
Messiaen’s wartime masterpiece the outstanding Quartet for the End of Time was composed during the darkest days when he was a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp. The particular instrumentation – piano, violin, cello and clarinet was determined by these circumstances. The result is an uplifting and spiritual work and Messiaen’s most significant contribution to chamber music. Its premiere is one of the legendary premieres of the twentieth century for it took place in the camp theatre before 5000 fellow-prisoners. ‘Never have I been listened to with such attention and such understanding’, Messiaen later recalled. The works also received a review in the camp newsletter, which recorded that: ‘The last note was followed by a moment of silence which established the sovereign mastery of the work.’

Quartet for the End of Time is coupled with the shorter work, Theme and Variations for Violin and Piano and the premiere recording of Piano Transcription of Les Offrandes oubliées. Theme and Variations was composed as a wedding gift from Messiaen to his wife whom he married in 1932. Like her husband, Claire was a devout Catholic and a composer as well as an accomplished violinist. The violin writing testifies to Claire’s passionate musicality and her technical skill, and as so often with Messiaen’s shorter works, has a power and presence that seems to belie its modest proportions. Les Offrandes oubliées, subtitled ‘méditation symphonique’ was composed in the summer of 1930, shortly after Messiaen completed his studies at the Paris Conservatoire. The work forms a stepping stone between the miniature world of the piano Préludes and the tumultuous virtuosity of his later piano music.

…admirably well-judged, scrupulously expressive performance, very well recorded.

…the Gould Trio and Robert Plane are among the best modern accounts
BBC Music Magazine


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