Messiaen - Catalogue d’Oiseaux | Piano Classics PCL10155

Messiaen - Catalogue d’Oiseaux


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Label: Piano Classics

Cat No: PCL10155

Barcode: 5029365101554

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 3

Genre: Instrumental

Release Date: 8th February 2019



Ciro Longobardi (piano)


Messiaen, Olivier

Catalogue d'oiseaux Books 1-7 (complete)


Ciro Longobardi (piano)


From an Alpine crow circling rocks and precipices to a lonely curlew off the coast of Brittany; from a golden oriole singing in the sun to a tawny owl hooting in a dark forest… The Catalogue d’Oiseaux of Olivier Messiaen forms an extraordinary and varied tribute to the landscape and bird-life of France, and to its composer’s powers of invention as he explored and developed innovations in harmony, melody and rhythm at a time when all the elements of music were in flux and up for grabs. Any new recording of one of the 20th century’s major piano cycles is a major event.

The 13 compositions of the Catalogue are very different from each other, in length, form and intent. L’alouette lulu is a kind of antiphonal poem. La chouette hulotte boldly maps out territory for experimentation – a rhythmic study at the start, by the end a study in timbre. Le chocard des alpes and Le buse variable are mostly articulated by shouts, where we are close to noise; the French landscape is very present and raw. The material is often raw and dissonant, but Messiaen often uses what are traditionally blocks of dissonance to create consonance. There are pieces full of melody – Le loriot or La bouscarle – and songs rich in timbre but not saturated with colour like La merle de roche.

The Catalogue begins and ends with movements that are severe in nature and forbidding in mood. Messiaen liked to convey the impression that he composed music in isolation from the world around him, inspired first and foremost by God and by the birds whom he called God’s musicians. But the period of the 1950s which saw the composition of the Catalogue was one of intense turbulence and tragedy for him, and it inevitably marked his music.

The Italian pianist Ciro Longobardi has made a specialty of 20th- and 21st-century music. He won a major piano prize at the crucible of European modernism in music, Darmstadt – only the second Italian pianist to do so – and he has given Italian premieres of significant works by the likes of Ives, Kurtág and Xenakis. With both an assured technique and a sympathetic grasp of the idioms of the great music of our own time, he is well placed to make an outstanding contribution to the rich history of the Catalogue d’Oiseaux on record.

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