Magazine article Gramophone

Messiaen: Quatuor Pour la Fin Du Temps

Magazine article Gramophone

Messiaen: Quatuor Pour la Fin Du Temps

Article excerpt


Quatuor pour la fin du temps

Martin Froste/ Janine Jansen vn

Torleif Thedeen vc Lucas Debargue pf

Sony Classical (F) 88985 36310-2 (47' * DDD)

Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time (1940-41) is arguably the 20th century's most startling musical portrayal of social and spiritual extremes, with its alternating depictions of ferocious apocalypse and paradisal serenity. In essence, it is a devout Catholic's response to internment in a Nazi detention camp, and Nigel Simeone's excellent booklet notes succinctly narrate what is now known about the extraordinary circumstances of its creation and first performance.

The Quartet has been much recorded in the CD era but I can't recall another version that so persuasively favours the ferocity over the serenity. Martin Frost's introductory comment that 'the music is still as relevant in today's political climate as it was in 1941' suggests that these performers might be especially responsive to the piece's secular context alongside its vibrant spiritual aura. The two most contemplative movements, the slow meditations for violin and piano and cello and piano, have active intensity as well as contained eloquence here, and both are played significantly faster than more explicitly spiritualised accounts. …

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