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Tuesday, March 16, 2004

'Quartet for the end of time.'

Alex Ross writes a wonderful, brief essay about one of my very favorite pieces of music: Olivier Messiaen's Quatuor pour la fin du temps, composed in 1941 for clarinet, violin, cello, and piano when Messiaen was held at the Stalag VIIIA prisoner-of-war camp in Görlitz, Germany. Ross calls it "the most ethereally beautiful music of the twentieth century." If you haven't heard it, do. Ross recommends this recording, which I haven't heard; I own the Walter Boeykens recording, which may have gone out of print. It's spare, haunting, lyrical, almost heart-stoppingly beautiful. If you hate the thought of twentieth-century classical music (with religious themes, no less), listen to this. (And then if you're feeling up to trying a twentieth-century choral work from the same era and with a similar sort of beauty, try Frank Martin's Mass for double choir. For something really ear-popping, though, try Stravinsky's Les noces and Symphony of psalms; I'm not quite sure what to make of his Lamentations of Jeremiah. I put that CD on only when Mrs Philocrites is out of the house.) Enough classical music: Gotta resume my Gen-X flannel ways.
("Revelations: The story behind Messiaen's 'Quartet for the End of Time,'" Alex Ross, New Yorker 3.22.04)

Copyright © 2004 by Philocrites | Posted 16 March 2004 at 8:44 PM

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Jay Lavelle:

March 17, 2004 05:26 AM | Permalink for this comment

I agree with Ross; the Tashi recording is magisterial: stunning, scary, ultimately comforting.


March 17, 2004 03:55 PM | Permalink for this comment

The Tashi recording is terrifying. I recommend as well Scriabin's Poeme d'Extase.

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