Olivier Messiaen - Hebrides Ensemble - The Times (Knowledge)
In celebration of Messiaen's centenary, the Hebrides Ensemble gives a quite dark performance of the Quartet for the End of Time. This suits its provenance in a wartime prison camp when it was performed by the composer and fellow PoWs on clapped-out instruments in the depths of winter. William Conway's cello burns with weighty intensity. In fact, a little spring and lightness would not have gone amiss, especially in the Danse de la Fureur, where the syncopated rhythm lacks bounce. Also included is Le Merle Noir, the black thrush, the first birdsong that Messiaen turned into music. The solo flute burrs authentically.