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Messiaen - Monodie


Peter Clark
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Guest Cynic
The Leduc edition of this piece gives a tempo of 48 quavers per minute but the suggested duration is 6 minutes. At 48 per minute the piece lasts just under 3 minutes, so which is right?

 

Thanks

 

Peter

 

 

A genuine native-born French player will start nearly three minutes late. No disrespect intended, but does anything other than a meal ever start on time in France?

 

Rather more seriously: practically every French score I have ever bought has contained misprints; so that is a very possible explanation.

Thinking of any slow work by Messiaen, I would always err on the side of playing it at the slowest end of what is possible/practical.

When Le Banquet Celeste was republished, OM deliberately had it reprinted using double length note values to make his preferred speed clearer.

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Thinking of any slow work by Messiaen, I would always err on the side of playing it at the slowest end of what is possible/practical.

I think this is very wise advice. A reviewer once observed that in Messiaen's slow movements (such as Le banquet céleste) every change of chord should come as a profound relief. I seem to recall that this comment was part of a criticism in response to a well-known performer who, at that time, consistently played Messiaen's slow passages too fast. One would not want to take the comment too literally, but the general tenor is spot on.

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