Olivier Messiaen - Hebrides Ensemble - BBC Music Magazine
With numerous Quartet recordings available, the fillers can make a big difference. The Hebrides Ensemble offer all of Messiaen's published chamber music, including the first recording of the recently rediscovered Fantaisie (1933) for violin and piano, and also a little known Pièce (1991) for piano and string quartet alongside the more familiar Le Merle noir and Theme and Variations. Captured in marvellous SACD sound, these are superb performances, with delightfully jaunty piano in the Pièce. Violinist Alexander Janiczek and pianist Philip Moore combine transcendent intensity with finely judged pacing in the Theme and Variations, Messiaen's wedding present to his first wife, Claire Delbos, placing this firmly among the best accounts on disc. The Fantaisie was the composer's follow-up for Delbos and, while not as sublime, it is just as dramatic as its predecessor, if more fragmented.