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Quatuor pour la fin du temps, 70th Anniversary

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Read my review published today in the Style section of the Washington Post:

Charles T. Downey, Inscape performs ‘Quartet for the End of Time’ at National Gallery of Art
Washington Post, April 5, 2011

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Trio Wanderer, P. Moraguès

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R. Rischin, For the End of Time: The Story of the Messiaen Quartet
In January 1941, Olivier Messiaen premiered his “Quartet for the End of Time,” in a performance by the composer and three other prisoners in a German war camp. Two months later, the National Gallery of Art was dedicated in Washington, to house the artworks collected by Andrew W. Mellon. The museum commemorated both of these anniversaries Sunday, with a performance of Messiaen’s landmark quartet in the West Garden Court of the West Building.

Like much of Messiaen’s music, the piece depicts a mystical scene, the cessation of the flow of time at the end of the world, based on words in the biblical book of Revelation. Rhythmic patterns drawn from classical Indian music, harmonies from Messiaen’s synesthesia-inspired vocabulary of chord colors, and the composer’s dissonant transcription of bird song converge to give the sense of time being suspended, by an angel heralded by trumpets in a “dance of fury” and crowned by rainbows. [Continue reading]
Messiaen, Quatuor pour la fin du temps
70th anniversary of Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time / 70th anniversary of the National Gallery of Art
Inscape Chamber Music Project
National Gallery of Art

"Never have I been listened to with such attention and such understanding." -- Messiaen's description of the first performance of Quatuor pour la fin du temps, at Stalag VIII-A in Görlitz, Germany (currently Zgorzelec, Poland) on January 15, 1941


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