Gillian Weir

Olivier Messiaen: The Organ Works, Vol. 5 & 6

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

The fifth and sixth volumes in Priory's complete series of Olivier Messiaen's organ works are combined on this double disc for the sake of presenting the entire Livre du Saint-Sacrement (1984) in one package. This 18-movement work explores the mysteries of the Holy Eucharist as interpreted by Messiaen through the filters of his personal mysticism, his synesthetic experiences, and his unique symbolic systems. In purely musical terms, this massive organ suite breaks down into several familiar components found in many other pieces by the composer: evolving, chromatic harmonies in slow progressions; exotic and excited bird calls; stark expositions of chant-like melodies; and multi-hued sonorities, produced by ingenious combinations of stops. One need not fully comprehend the devotional program of this work or its complicated techniques to appreciate its dazzling effects and to be intrigued by its mysterious and often dazzling passages. Indeed, one may be more fascinated by Gillian Weir's virtuosic playing and her exceptional control and expressivity for the duration of this monumental work. Recorded in 1994 on the Frobenius organ in Arhus Cathedral, Denmark, with additional tracks recorded in 2003, this album has good resonance and depth.

blue highlight denotes track pick