Michael Bonaventure (Rieger Organ of St Giles' Cathedral Edinburgh)
CD - 2 discs
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The seeds for Messiaen's final organ work were sown during an inspirational trip to Israel in 1984. Over the course of the next twelve months, Messiaen found improvisation leading him back to composition after the exhausting labours that had produced his mighty opera Saint François d'Assise.The Livre du Saint Sacrement became Messiaen's grand farewell to his own instrument, and Michael Bonaventure performs it from memory here on the Rieger organ at St Giles' Cathedral, the true acoustic of which preserves the clarity of Messiaen's lines.
29th June 2008
“The Livre du Saint Sacrement (1986) was Messiaen’s final great cycle for the organ, 18 movements lasting about two hours. The music is elemental, devout, ritualistic, eclectic. Sometimes it seems simple, a tune and shimmering accompaniment, even a single line (as in the third movement, Le Dieu caché). And sometimes it rejoices in a cacophonic chaos of counterpoint (as in movement 13, Les Deux murailles d’eau). It is always direct, however, and utterly sincere. Michael Bonaventure cajoles from the mighty Rieger organ of St Giles’ Cathedral a formidable range of authentically Gallic-sounding colours in his commanding, thrilling and brilliantly executed performance.”
27th June 2008
“In Michael Bonaventure's performance on the Rieger organ of St Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh, the work plays for almost two hours. On disc it should be sampled in smaller quantities to appreciate the power of the best of the organ writing. Bonaventure certainly allows the music all the space it needs, but there's also a rhythmic energy to his playing that never allows it to hang fire for too long.”
“Bonaventure is utterly compelling and can be heartily recommended.”
“Michael Bonaventure's complete Messiaen project (this is Volume 3) returns to St Giles's Cathedral in Edinburgh and its stunning Rieger organ, which dates from 1992. Messiaen's farewell to the organ, the Livre duSaint Sacrement, was composed in 1984-85 and first performed by Almut Rössler in Detroit in 1986. Messiaen spoke of this Book of the BlessedSacrament as a summation of the experience gained from improvising each Sunday at the Eglise de la Saint-Trinité in Paris, where he was organist for over 60 years. There is no shortage of familiar Messiaenic thumbprints: dislocated ideas, meandering dribbles of plainsong, chirpy birdsong, slow, development-less sudden and spectacular bolts of anger; and those endlessly messy chords that desperately need to resolve. Playing from memory, Bonaventure takes just under two hours, slightly longer than Olivier Latry at Notre-Dame (DG). Movements 1-4 serve as a prelude or ante-Communion. Movements 5-11 follow events in the life of Jesus, and 12-18 contemplate the mysteries of the Sacrament. This uneven, over-long piece poses considerable challenges to both player and listener, there being few moments of comfortable repose. The more athletic passages (for example in the Alleluia final – originally entitled 'La Visitation') bounce along with a redeeming joy. Despite the generous acoustic the Rieger organ is recorded cleanly. It is especially effective in the echo effects in the short fourth movement, 'Acte de Foi'.”
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