Daniel Beilschmidt

Messiaen: Méditations sur le Mystère de la Sainte Trinité

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The title of Olivier Messiaen's Méditations sur le Mystère de la Sainte-Trinité (Meditations on the Mystery of the Holy Trinity), composed in 1969, might be read two ways: as referring to the trinity in the Christian faith, or to the church of Sainte-Trinité in Paris, where Messiaen was organist for many years. Of course Messiaen did not intend the latter sense, but in this performance by German organist Daniel Beilschmidt the work and the space where he performs it -- he insisted on recording the work in Messiaen's original venue -- seem linked in all sorts of mysterious ways. The Méditations, in nine movements, contain many aspects of Messiaen's mature style, including dissonant stacks punctuated by moments of consonance or silence, serial organization, the use of Indian rhythms (it is odd that no one has explored or expanded upon the potential linkages of the last two ideas named), and the influence of birdsong, achieved through various bizarre registration effects. But here, all of these aspects are subsumed within the sonic model provided by the French organ school of the late 19th century, the era when the organ at Sainte-Trinité was built. These are sonically massive pieces, demanding of an organist who can fill a large space effectively, and Beilschmidt sorts out the subtle details from the monumental effects. It also requires top-class engineering skills, and here the Genuin label of Leipzig does not disappoint. A fine recording of this late Messiaen work. It was supported by the Autostadt theme park in Germany, and you are invited to contemplate how Messiaen would have reacted to that.

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