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Messiaen for the New Year: Early Songs

Available from Amazon
Messiaen, Chants de Terre et de Ciel (inter alia), S. LeBlanc, L. Wiliford, L. Andriani, R. Kortgaard

(released September 30, 2008)
Atma Classique ACD2 2564

La Fête des Belles Eaux | Quatuor pour la fin du temps | Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant-Jésus | Messiaen Complete Edition
In our continuing extension of the celebrations for the Olivier Messiaen Centenary this month, there is this new release of early works for voice and violin, all composed in Messiaen's early period, the happy days of his first marriage to Claire Delbos and the birth of their son, Pascal. Some of these songs may be familiar to listeners as performed by Dawn Upshaw, but it is good to have complete recordings of the sets Trois mélodies (from 1930, dedicated to the composer's late mother, the poet Cécile Sauvage) and Chants de terre et de ciel (from the late 1930s, about the composer's wife and newborn child). Canadian soprano Suzie LeBlanc, whom we have reviewed on disc and in concert in the last few years, has an optimal voice for this repertoire, which has something in common with the Baroque music she is known best for singing. The only shame is that she did not also record Poèmes pour Mi, also dedicated to Claire Delbos (by her nickname, Mi) and the companion set to Chants de terre et de ciel, composed in the same period. LeBlanc and American tenor Lawrence Wiliford are strongest in floating soft lines, while both become just slightly strident when force is applied. Violinist Laura Andriani and pianist Robert Kortgaard round out a very pleasing disc, which focuses on the heritage of Debussy and Ravel: while Poulenc and others went ever closer to the extended harmony of popular song and jazz, Messiaen took the same basic vocabulary and went in a completely unexpected and singular direction.


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