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Courtesy towards the things of Nature: Interpretations of Messiaen's ‘Catalogue d'oiseaux’

  • Robin Freeman

Extract

Messiaen's Catalogue d'oiseaux is most often programmed as individual pieces: which is as it should be, since it is not a cycle like the Vingt regards sur I'enfant Jésus but a collection from which to select what, and how much, one wants to play or hear at a particular time. All the more important to have complete recordings of it, so what we listen to has a consistent interpretative grain. In addition to the style oiseau there is of course the style Loriod, an essential point of reference, above all for the rendering of certain percussive effects; but, once these have become technical second nature, the margins of fantasy seem as comfortable as with any other composer. In fact what Bertrand Poirot-Delpêche calls le paradoxe flaubertien would seem especially applicable to music so full of precise detail: plus les détails s'accumulent, plus il faut rêver leur sens.

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References

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Zeller, H.R., ‘Messiaen und Kritische Universalität’ in Musik-Konzeple 28.
Jules, Renard, Histoires naturelles. Garnier-Flammarion, 1967.
Delamain, , Jacques, , Les Jours et les nuits des oiseaux. Paris, 1932; English translation by Marie Schlumberger, London 1933. Delamain's books are currently being reprinted in France.

Courtesy towards the things of Nature: Interpretations of Messiaen's ‘Catalogue d'oiseaux’

  • Robin Freeman

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