Olivier Messiaen

Alex Ross has a new post about the centennial of Olivier Messiaen. I had the privelage of seeing pianist Jeff Payne perform Messiaen’s masterpiece, Vingt regards sur l’enfant-Jésus in a (I’m told) rare complete performance.
I found the experience completely disorienting. I found the lack of melody hard to deal with, and reminded me of what a terrible Philistine I am. I also had a huge moment of low self esteem when I was talking over the concert the day after with a friend of mine. He had heard and played many of Messiaen’s organ works, and heard much more harmonically in the piece than I did.
It has become another one of my Moby Dicks… there will be one day when I will hear more than a dense swirling of disjoined chords in that work.

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