Related Reviews
High Fidelity - Denmark
"Læg mærke til Linn og Hebrides Ensemble!"
more >>
Crescendo
4 Stars
"...le Hebrides Ensemble, familier du répertoire contemporain, en donne ici une interprétation très convaincante..."
more >>
Hi Fi & Musik
'I är firar man att det vär hundra är sedan den franske tonsättaren Olivier Messaiaen föddes...'
more >>
Pizzicato
5 Stars
Diese hochkarätige Messiaen CD vereint mehrere...
more >>
Linster
4 Stars
De grootste attractie van deze cd zit in de minder bekende stukken...
more >>
Partituren
"Eine rundum gelungene Einspielung in optimalem Klang."
more >>
Klassik.com
4 Stars
"Schon ihretwegen werden Messiaen-Fans zu dieser SACD greifen."
more >>
Ensemble
"...überwältigend."
more >>
Atlanta Audio Society
"...distinguished and thoroughly compelling accounts..."
more >>
Nottingham Evening Post
5 Stars
"...Simply unmissable...mastered superbly."
more >>
BBC Music Magazine
4 Stars
"...these are superb performances...placing this firmly among the best accounts on disc."
more >>
The List
4 Stars
"It takes its place among the best interpretations of the work on disc..."
more >>
SA-CD.net
5 Stars
Absolutely captivating and a wonderful contribution to the centenary of Messiaen's birth - highly recommended.
more >>
The Sunday Times
3 Stars
[a] stirring account of Quatuor pour la fin du temps
more >>
The Sunday Times (Live Review)
"captivating...daring but triumphant Wigmore debut."
more >>
The Observer
"...an impressive account from the Hebrides Ensemble..."
more >>
Classical Source - Live Review
"London appearances from the Hebrides Ensemble should ideally be more frequent."
more >>
The Times (Knowledge)
4 Stars
A performance full of "intensity".
more >>
Manchester Evening News
4 Stars
"Messiaen's music is like no other..."
more >>
Audiophile Audition
4 Stars
"...transparent surround sonics greatly aid the listener's experience of this amazing work."
more >>
The Guardian
4 Stars
"...vivid, beautifully judged performances from the Hebrides Ensemble..."
more >>
Music OMH
4 Stars
"...well worth coughing up for...crisp and detailed..."
more >>
BBC Online
However, this disc is more than just a premiere recording. This is special playing from a special group of musicians.
more >>
The Independent
A strong, truthful recording by the ensemble
more >>
Financial Times
The Hebrides Ensemble play as if they believe in every note.
more >>
The Scotsman
4 Stars
A performance "with vibrant intensity and genuine belief in the music"
more >>

Messiaen & Carter - Hebrides Ensemble - Music OMH


02 June 2008
Music OMH - Live Review
Simon Thomas

To mark the launch of their excellent CD of Messiaen Chamber Works , the Hebrides Ensemble gave a programme of works at Wigmore Hall by both the French composer and his American contemporary Elliott Carter.

The two composers were born just a day and an ocean apart and, as a celebration of their centenary year, this was as eloquent as anything we've heard in London so far.

Give a composer his freedom, a full orchestra and all the comforts of modern living and there's no guarantee that he'll come up with anything memorable. Put him in prison with an out of tune upright, a three-stringed cello and a bemused audience and he might just write a great work like Quator pour le fin du temps. I wouldn't want to perpetuate the tired cliché of art overcoming adversity but Messiaen does do something miraculous with the limited means at his disposal.

Of course, the details of that famous first performance are shaky at best, with the cellist claiming that his instrument actually had a full set of strings and disputing the size of the audience, but it must have been some event. Although a Friday evening at the Wigmore Hall can hardly be expected to approximate to the conditions in Stalag VIII-A in 1941, the Hebrides Ensemble succeeded in creating an extraordinary atmosphere.

The spellbinding clarinet solo in the third movement was as memerising as a snake charmer in the hands of Spanish clarinettist Maximiliano Martin and, while the later sections become as garishly ebullient as some of the mature works, the haunting violin that dominates the final movement returns us to a serenity and soberness that makes applause an intrusion.

The evening had begun with a short spiky exercise from Messiaen with his Pièce pour piano et quator à cordes, written late in his life (1991) as a tribute to the music publisher Alfred Schlee. It was followed by two Carter works, the well-known GRA for solo clarinet and the Quintet for piano and string quartet, composed when he was nearly 90.

Martin impressed with the colourful GRA, virtuoso playing making huge demands on the player while proving all too short for the listener. It resembles nothing so much as a game of cat teasing mouse (the title is the Polish word for "play"), with frantic pawing alternating with bashful pausing. The Quintet begins with a seemingly formless flow of strings and intermittent bashing on the piano developing into a comical dialogue, instruments chattering over each other and sounding like the sort of rhubarbing that goes on upstage in a drawing room comedy. Wheeling through various moods, the piece concludes with a much more grown-up conversation between the contestants, the piano squeezing in a final cheeky syllable. Delightful stuff beautifully played.

Throughout the evening, the ensemble - here comprising William Conway (Cello & Artistic Director), Alexander Janiczek (Violin), David Adams (Violin), Catherine Marwood (Viola), Philip Moore (Piano) and Maximiliano Martin (Clarinet) - played with great refinement and heartfelt intensity in a performance that was both enthralling and uplifting.

He may be the oldest and one of the most eminent of contemporary composers but much of Elliott Carter's work isn't readily available on disk. Maybe the Hebrides Ensemble should follow up their Messiaen CD with one of Carter chamber works. Perhaps they could include the recently New York-premiered Clarinet Quintet. How about it chaps?


Bookmark and Share


Related Links

Hebrides EnsembleHebrides Ensemble
Olivier Messiaen: Chamber WorksOlivier Messiaen: Chamber Works