Messiaen's Theme and variations is a less familiar work written in 1932 for his first wife, violinist and composer Claire Delbos, whom he had married in June of that year. Preceding the Quartet by some eight years, and a product of the received traditional resources of the time, it already shows some of the harmonic voluptuousness and rhythmic excitement (though still quite conventional) of his later style.
Through the first four variations the speeds increase until the final fifth, the climax of the piece, is reached with a passionate restatement of the theme, a sound that was to become a hallmark of his stylistic personality,
Listen -- Theme and Variations
(track 9, 7:54-9:06) © 2008 harmonia mundi sa
until the violin descends in its register to a quiet ending. A magnificent early work, played exquisitely by Jean-Marc Phillips-Varjabédian and Vincent Coq.
With Raphaël Pidoux, cello and Pascal Moraguès, clarinet, they present a superb performance of the Quartet for the End of Time
Listen -- Liturgie De Cristal (Quatuor pour la fin de temps)
(track 1, 1:34-2:29) © 2008 harmonia mundi sa
with impressive solo contributions, flawless ensemble, and speeds that exactly meet Messiaen's intentions, giving his lines the breadth and sonority they require, and his rhythmic schemes all the power and drive needed to make them live.
Listen -- Fouillis d'arcs-en-ciel (Quatuor pour la fin de temps)
(track 7, 4:34-6:02) © 2008 harmonia mundi sa
This highly recommended performance is all the better for being recorded with clarity and warmth.
Copyright © 28 October 2008
Patric Standford, Wakefield UK
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Messiaen: Quatuor pour la fin du temps - Trio Wanderer
HMC 901987 Stereo NEW RELEASE 62'27" 2008 harmonia mundi sa
Jean-Marc Phillips-Varjabédian, violin
Raphaël Pidoux, cello
Vincent Coq, piano
with Pascal Moraguès, clarinet
Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992):
Quatuor pour la fin du Temps
1 Liturgie de cristal
2 Vocalise, pour l'Ange qui annonce la fin du Temps
3 Abîme des oiseaux
5 Louange à l'Éternité de Jésus
6 Danse de la fureur, pour les sept trompettes
7 Fouillis d'arcs-en-ciel, pour l'Ange qui annonce la fin du Temps
8 Louange à l'immortalité de Jésus
9 Thème et variations pour violon et piano
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