March 1, 2016

Messaien: Des canyons aux etoiles

Landmark events are rare for festivals that have been around a long time, but this live performance recording, conducted by New York Philharmonic music director Alan Gilbert, was a momentous event to be sure. The main event of the 2015 season was this performance of Olivier Messiaen s majestic From the Canyons to the Stars, which is inspired by Western United States terrain, and is scored for an ensemble of 44 instrumentalists, a mammoth assemblage by festival standards. With a virtuoso musician in every seat, the performance is captivating.

Alice Tully commissioned the work from Messiaen in 1971, who expressed a desire to seek inspiration in some of America s most imposing landscapes, including Bryce Canyon and Zion, Cedar Breaks National Monument. Throughout the work you will hear the things Messiaen documented in his diary, taking care to notate the calls of the birds he encountered, birdsongs being one of his particular passions. At its premiere, audiences were swept up in its colorful, 12-movement fusion of tone painting and theological mysticism. As was his wont, Messiaen attached an extended commentary that begins in characteristically effusive fashion: From the canyons to the stars ... that is, an ascent from the canyons to the stars and beyond to the resurrected souls in Heaven to share with God the eternal state of Creation: the beauty of the earth, its rocks, its birdsong; the beauty of the physical sky and the beauty of heaven.

Messaien: Des canyons aux Etoiles

Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival (Artist)