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<<  -- 2 --  Robert Anderson    A PALPABLE REALITY


Le banquet céleste was written while Messiaen was still at the Conservatoire, a prize-winner in traditional disciplines, but already strikingly original. It was an originality linked to his unshakeable Catholic faith and an uncanny fascination for sound, lovingly dwelt on, in all its aspects. The Festival of the Holy Sacrament inspired the piece, with its characteristic hints to the player, 'ecstatic, distant, mysterious'. Each of the slow-moving chords has its individual spacing and colour, over which preside the quiet pulsations of the voix céleste. The central section pays tribute to the life-giving drops of moisture that are heaven's gift to the earth [listen -- track 11, 3:00-4:13]. L'apparition de l'église eternelle is a striking justification of Cavaillé-Coll's innovations. One of his most impressive achievements was to perfect the tonal gradations of the organ, so that the quietest whisper could lead imperceptibly to the instrument's full thunder at maximum volume. This was exactly what Messiaen exploited to such telling effect in L'apparition, with his vision of the Church Eternal advancing steadily into the conscious mind and receding equally mysteriously. Here are Messiaen and Weir making the vision take on palpable reality [listen -- track 1, 1:28-2:22].

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Copyright © 29 January 2003 Robert Anderson, London, UK


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