Messiaen: 8 Preludés - Ile De Feu I-ii - Fantaisi
Label: PIANO CLASSICS
Format: COMPACT DISC
Chiara Cipelli made a notable debut on Brilliant Classics in 2019 with the little-known music of Bruno Bettinelli. Now she turns her attention to the early works of Olivier Messiaen which are contemporary with much of Bettinelli’s piano music. Dating from 1929, the cycle of Eight Preludes finds Messiaen at his most impressionistic, with an opening, entrancing evocation of a dove that perhaps owes more to the spare language of Ravel in the ‘Oiseaux tristes’ of Miroirs than it does to his own, later and more extrovert transcriptions of birdsong. These Preludes strike a prevailing mood of reflection and calm, tending towards a French but uncharacteristic melancholy. Already in the second Prelude the 21-year-old Messiaen is trying out the effect of a visionary, aspiring melody over the top of a solemn chorale – the master organ improviser at a very early stage of development. The rarely encountered Pièce pour le tombeau de Paul Dukas strikes an even more sombre note, as a piece written by Messiaen in memory of his much-loved teacher of composition at the Paris Conservatoire. Here is a superb example of Messiaen’s chorale style, at once ecstatic and severe, at its most imposing and yet compressed (lasting only four minutes). Thereafter, Chiara Cipelli’s album strikes a more extrovert note, with the Fantaisie Burlesque of 1932 and a pair of the Quatre Etudes de Rythme with which the composer revolutionized his own language in the early 1950s and prefigured much avant-garde music by his pupils such as Boulez and Stockhausen, In the two Ile de feu studies, every aspect of composition is systematized according to a pre-arranged plan – not only notes in the 12-tone method devised by Schoenberg, but rhythms and even durations. Yet the results are much too stark and fiery to be confused with anyone but Messiaen. Chiara Cipelli ends her recital with a genuine rarity, the standalone Prelude which Messiaen wrote in 1964 but withheld, so that it only saw the light of day in 2000, eight years after his death.