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Tomorrow Morning On 3


Andy
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In case any one doesn't already know, 'La Nativite du Seigneur' is the featured piece for 'Building a library' tomorrow morning at 0930 on Radio 3. (The reviewer is Jeremy Thurlow)

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Well, Dame Gillian has it. I must say this was the set I was inclined towards, as far as I could make any choices from the very sketchy whistle-stop tour we were inevitably given. But Mr Thurlow did a pretty good job within the time available, I thought. Some performances I expected to enjoy I did not at all - a surprising number of speeds, both fast and slow, were too glib, I thought - but my take on La Nativité was shaped, probably unalterably, by Simon Preston's old recording from Westminster Abbey. I would particularly have liked to have heard more examples of the central section of Dieu parmi nous (the transformation of the Communion theme). I really do not like this played at breakneck speed. Mr Thurlow's analogy with a steam train was well made, but to me it wasn't a flattering image! Surely the lyricism of the tune should still shine through? After all, isn't Messiaen's view of the Communion more about love than passion? Let the final toccata burst upon us out of the blue. It has far more impact if it's not anticipated. All IMO of course.

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What a brilliant idea! Thanks to both of you for the "heads up".

 

Indeed - I have done this a few times. It is a simple way of acquiring a good quaility sound broadcast from the 'radio' (i.e. TV, via the Freeview digital tuner).

 

If only they could make the 'desktop wallpaper' more interesting....

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I agree that this was a bit of a 'whistle-stop tour', but the point was well made about the speeds. The point has sometimes been made that the Nativite doesn't hang together well as a programme when played through in one sitting, but if you reserve the really slow playing for the second half of Le Verbe and Desseins Eternels, and keep a sense of direction the other movements, the whole thing makes much better sense. To this end, I agreed with the choice of DGW, but Latry has his moments, particularly at the end of Jesus accepte la souffrance, where the sheer power of the Notre Dame tutti is thrillingly caught.

 

Not sure how easily you could obtain some of the recordings, though: Innig? Louise Marsh? After the programme I would have been interested to hear more of Marie-Claire Alain's version. Has anyone got this?

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I thought the review was a bit superficial, or at least random. Its a shame for instance that nothing was said about the basic structure of the piece (the 3 groups of movements, 9 as the number of maternity etc) which could perhaps have increased the appreciation of the piece for the 'lay' listener.

 

I also thought it was a shame that more wasn't said about the choice of organ. Notre Dame for example is no longer a Cavaillé-Coll organ in any meaningful sense, despite what Thurlow tells us. On the other hand, (partly) because of the technology in that organ, all of Messiaen's registrations can be faithfully re-produced. I suspect also that Latry's approach in general to his Messiaen recordings reflects the improvisatory nature of the composer's recordings. Despite his somewhat haphazard approach to playing his own scores, Messiaen was seemingly somewhat dictatorial when guiding others.

 

I also remember a story Nicholas Kynaston told about the last movement of L'Ascension. If memory serves, (please correct me otherwise) it is marked 'Lent' with a quaver tempo of 48. Messiaen scored out the 48 in Kynaston's copy and wrote '12'. In other words, Lent can never really be too Lent.....

 

Its a shame that David Titterington's recording for Hyperion is no longer available, I enjoy it very much. Still, I'm glad that Gillian Weir won, this is surely what she does best, and I don't think anyone does it better. On the other hand, although I love Messiaen, it isn't my area of expertise....

 

Greetings

 

Bazuin (exhausted after losing several hours of sleep last night to the mother of all thunderstorms).

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I thought the review was a bit superficial, or at least random. Its a shame for instance that nothing was said about the basic structure of the piece (the 3 groups of movements, 9 as the number of maternity etc) which could perhaps have increased the appreciation of the piece for the 'lay' listener.

I respectfully disagree. Jeremy Thurlow's task was not to provide a discourse on the structure of the cycle, but to choose - in 50 minutes - the best of the available recordings. Regular listeners to Building a Library will know that much has to be covered in a short space of time. In some weeks, the best of at least a dozen recordings has to be chosen, so there's hardly time to digress from the task in hand.

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