Olivier Messiaen - Hebrides Ensemble - The Sunday Times
The novelty on this disc of five items, including the group's stirring account of Quatuor pour la fin du temps, is the Fantasie for violin and piano, which Messiaen wrote in 1933 to play with his first wife, the violinist Claire Delbos, and which was thought lost until it turned up among the composer's papers last year. An eight-minute movement, beginning with a defiant, distinctive melody for the piano in octaves, it is in Messiaen's liveliest, ripest, if early, style. His three-minute Piece pour piano et quatuor a cordes is a marvellously incisive, birdsong-inflected tribute to the publisher Alfred Schlee. The flute-and-piano bird piece Le Merle noir is bristlingly despatched.