CatholicPlanet.Net discussion group  

Go Back   CatholicPlanet.Net discussion group > General > Inspirational Prose and Poetry
FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
  #1  
Old 21st October 2008, 11:52 PM
Climacus Areopagite Climacus Areopagite is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,593
Default Quartet for the End of Time

Here is a classical piece by the Catholic composer Olivier Messiaen. He wrote in the preface of the score that these verses from chapter 10 Revelation inspired him to write it:

"And I saw another strong Angel, descending from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet were like columns of fire . . . And he stationed his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot upon the land . . . And the Angel, whom I saw standing upon the sea and upon the land, lifted up his hand toward heaven. And he swore by the One who lives forever and ever . . . that the time will not be any longer, but in the days of the voice of the seventh Angel, when he shall begin to sound the trumpet, the mystery of God will be completed . . ."

The work is divided into eight movements. The last movement is called "Praise to the immortality of Jesus" The whole piece in my opinion is quite amazing, but this last movement is mystical and moving (though maybe not everyone's cup of tea). Here is a good version:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQiH0csUPP0
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 22nd October 2008, 10:37 PM
Sacredcello's Avatar
Sacredcello Sacredcello is offline
supporting member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: California
Posts: 973
Default

It is a profound and moving work which was composed and premiered in a German concentration camp where Messiaen was a prisoner of war. This piece is a great victory through art of humanity over inhumanity. Messiaen was held captive in Stalag VIIIA and there were also three other musicians, the cellist Etienne Pasquier, clarinettist Henri Akoka and violinist Jean le Boulaire. Someone had given the cellist a cello with three strings. The name "Interlude" gradually became Quatuor pour la fin du Temps as the seven pieces were added to surround it. The full ensemble of four instruments (Messiaen played the piano) is used only in the first, second, sixth and seventh movements. Messiaen writes:

"Its musical language is essentially immaterial, spiritual and Catholic. Modes which achieve a kind of tonal ubiquity, melodically and harmonically, here draw the listener towards eternity in space or the infinite. Special rhythms, beyond metre, contribute powerfully in dismissing the temporal."

It was premiered on January 15, 1941 before hundreds of prisoners, many of them wounded and were brought from the hospital block on stretchers into a large freezing hut to hear the music. Messiaen recalled that he had 'never ...been listened to with such consideration and understanding'.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 23rd October 2008, 12:30 AM
Climacus Areopagite Climacus Areopagite is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,593
Default

Sacredcello,

I imagine you must have performed this. I imagine it must be a difficult to play since music is usually governed by time, yet didnt he take out the time signature in some areas to cause a musical effect like eternity or infinity?

Anyway I agree this is a magnificent work. Here is the fifth movement "Praise to the eternity of Jesus" for cello and piano:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJ-GwxyJ2ZY
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 23rd October 2008, 07:43 AM
Sacredcello's Avatar
Sacredcello Sacredcello is offline
supporting member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: California
Posts: 973
Default

Yes, the time signature was eliminated in several of the movements to create a sense of timelessness. Yet, there are still bar lines which have an internal logic for both listener and performer.

I have performed two movements of this work at different times. The first movement features the entire quartet and is titled Liturgie de cristal. There are imitations of birdsong played by the violin and clarinet while the cello and piano play continuous material seemingly without beginning or end. Here is Messiaen's description of this movement:

"Between three and four in the morning, the awakening of birds: a solo blackbird or nightingale improvises, surrounded by a shimmer of sound, by a halo of trills lost very high in the trees. Transpose this onto a religious plane and you have the harmonious silence of Heaven."

The other movement which I perform quite often is called Louange a l'Eternite de Jesus about which Messiaen writes:

"Jesus is here considered as the Word. A long phrase for the cello, infinitely slow, magnifies with love and reverence the eternity of this powerful and gentle Word, 'which the years can never efface'. Majestically, the melody unfolds in a kind of tender and supreme distance. 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was in God, and the Word was God.'

I like the cellist's performance on the youtube video which you have shared. His tempo is very close to Messiaen's metronome markings which is incredibly slow. He plays well. I would link the video of my performance of it, but, I'm sorry to say, it was filmed before I was 'enlightened' about modest dress. My bare arms and form fitting dress are not really appropriate for such a piece. Not to mention my uncovered head. I'm not embarrassed to show my quartet website though. The day the quartet video was filmed was a good clothes day, except I was still wearing pants in those days, but you can't really tell in the video. Here it is:

www.santabarbaraquartet.com
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 23rd October 2008, 08:09 PM
VKallin VKallin is offline
supporting member
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: North Port, Florida
Posts: 615
Default A delightful String Quartet

SacredCello.........There is a lot of talent in those four bodies. Thanks for sharing with us.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 23rd October 2008, 08:33 PM
Climacus Areopagite Climacus Areopagite is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,593
Default

thanks for sharing your insights. Maybe we should start a Sacred/Classical music thread, where we can share and discuss Catholic works.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 23rd October 2008, 09:03 PM
Climacus Areopagite Climacus Areopagite is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,593
Default

if there are enough people interested too, I wouldnt mind starting a discussion thread about liturgical music, since in my opinion its use is being abused today in various dioceses/parishes.
Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 03:48 AM.


Powered by vBulletin Version 3.6.0
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.