Jonathan Dimmock captures the spirit of the mystic Messiaen in his thoughtful and sympathetic treatment of some of the somposer’s most famous works: Transports de Joie (Outbursts of Joy) from L’Ascension, Dieu parmi nous (God among us) from La Nativité, and Le Banquet Céleste (The Celestial Banquet). But there are more esoteric offerings as well: the rarely heard Chants d’Oiseaux (Birdsongs) from Livre d’Orgue,and Prélude, discovered in 1997 by Messiaen’s wife, Yvonne Loriod Messiaen, but dating from around 1929, when Messiaen was studying at the Paris Conservatoire. It is an early example of Messiaen’s daring refusal to writ music accessible to the casual listener, but rather music which finds transcendence in a new voice, leaving aside traditional harmonic language.
French ears are forgiving to organs which are not in tune – they regard a certain amount of varying intonation as a natural part of the organ’s color and texture. This is understanding, considering the historic organs the French cherish. Many of these have deadlength reeds and cone-tuned flues. Frequent tuning would damage these pipes. Indeed, in this recording, some of the fff sustained chords have the effect of a snare-drum roll (or a flutter-tongue effect) incorporated into the myriad pitches. Sometimes this can be surprisingly attractive and exciting.
From the point of view of acoustics and instrument, this is an authentic recording, and Jonathan Dimmock gives energetic and colorful readings of this great music.
– John Fenstermaker