Incorporating the fruits of the composer’s untiring research into the various aspects of tonality, bird-song, ancient Indian and Greek rhythms, and his life-long preoccupation with the philosophy and liturgy of the Catholic Church, the organ music by Olivier Messiaen forms a pillar in the music of the 20th century. Over some 50 years, from Le banquet céleste to Livre du Saint-Sacrement, Messiaen created a body of works for the great Cavaillé-Coll organ in the Church of La Trinité in Paris, where he was active throughout most of his life. All of these have been gathered in this boxed-set of Hans-Ola Ericsson’s highly acclaimed recordings, originally released as single discs between 1989 and 1992. Ericsson recorded his interpretations after an intense collaboration with the composer, and the result has been considered a landmark ever since the original releases. In 1998, the German magazine Die Zeit included the cycle in its listing of ‘111 Discs for the Coming Millennium’ and in 2002 it was described as ‘the most consistently excellent’ by a reviewer in International Record Guide. The present collection also includes new recordings of three posthumous works — Monodie, Offrande au Saint Sacrement and Prélude — as well as recordings of the different birdcalls that Messiaen referred to in several of his scores. The extensive booklet — 232 pages! — contains a full-length essay in three languages (English, French and German) on Messiaen’s organ music and the specific works by Anders Ekenberg, church musician and theologian. It also includes descriptions of the instruments used, as well as a detailed presentation of the different birds whose calls Messiaen included in so many of his organ works.
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