• Pablo Ziffer

Olivier Messiaen ‒ Preludes pour Piano



Olivier Messiaen (1908 - 1992), Preludes pour piano (1929)

Performed by Hakon Austbo

00:00 - No. 1 La colombe

02:03 - No. 2 Chant d'extase dans un paysage triste

09:16 - No. 3 Le nombe léger

10:59 - No. 4 Instants défunts

15:23 - No. 5 Les sons impalpables du rêve

19:08 - No. 6 Cloches d'angoisse et larmes d'adieu

26:30 - No. 7 Plainte calme

29:46 - No. 8 Un reflet dans le vent

The eight Preludes were published in 1929, while Messiaen was still a student, at the instance of Paul Dukas. While the titles sometimes suggest Debussy, the music itself shows considerable originality. The first of the set, La colombe (The Dove), is evocative in its binary form, the second half repeating the first until the final gentle ascent, a charactcristically symmetrical piece. Chant d'extase dans un paysage triste (Song of Ecstasy in a Sad Landscape) is similarly clear in structure. The opening section, presented simply at first, frames a chordal section before returning in fuller form. At the heart of the piece is new material, ecstatic in mood, framing in turn a central section that presents its melodic material in imitative canon. The opening material returns, again framing the material of the second section, each offered in a varied form. There is use of canon in the final section of Le nombre léger (The Light Number), after the opening section has returned in a higher, related key. Instants défunts (Dead Instants) has a similar regularity of structure, with its opening material framing secondary material, the latter elaborated, while the former is shortened at each reappearance. The piece ends with a coda. Les sons impalpables du reve (The Impalpable Sounds of the Dream) has a symmetry of a rondo, its opening section returning to frame two intervening episodes. It is followed by Cloches d'angoisse et larmes d'adieu (Bells of Anguish and Tears of Farewell). Here a repeated note suggests the sound of a bell, with its overtones above. After an intervening section the bell tolls again, in a higher tonality, rising still further at the next repetition. The material develops to a dynamic climax, followed by a tenderly evocative passage, dominated by a recurrent motif, before the return of the bell, heard intermittently as the piece comes to an end. The seventh piece, Plainte calme (Calm Blaint) is ternary in form. It is followed by Un reflet dans le vent (A Reflection in the Wind), a piece with an equally clear structure, perhaps obscured by hte illustrative element that is present.

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