Messiaen: Catalogue D'oiseaux / Longobardi
Label: PIANO CLASSICS
The Catalogue d’Oiseaux of Olivier Messiaen forms an extraordinary and varied tribute to the landscape and bird-life of France, and to its composer’s powers of invention as he explored and developed innovations in harmony, melody and rhythm at a time when all the elements of music were in flux and up for grabs. The 13 compositions of the Catalogue are very different from one other, in length, form and intent. L’alouette lulu is a kind of antiphonal poem. La chouette hulotte boldly maps out territory for experimentation. Le chocard des alpes and Le buse variable are mostly articulated by shouts, where we are close to noise. The material is often raw and dissonant, but Messiaen often uses what are traditionally blocks of dissonance to create consonance. There are pieces full of melody – Le loriot or La bouscarle – and songs rich in timbre but not saturated with color like La merle de roche. He liked to convey the impression that he composed music in isolation from the world around him, inspired first and foremost by God and by the birds whom he called God’s musicians. The Italian pianist Ciro Longobardi has made a specialty of 20th and 21st-century music. He won a major piano prize at the crucible of European modernism in music, Darmstadt – only the second Italian pianist to do so – and he has given Italian premieres of significant works by the likes of Ives, Kurtág and Xenakis. With both an assured technique and a sympathetic grasp of the idioms of the great music of our own time, he is well placed to make an outstanding contribution to the rich history of the Catalogue d’Oiseaux on record.