Concert #6 – End of Time
Sunday 16th December, 3-4pm
107 Milton Rd, Milton QLD 4064
Adult $35 / Concession $25 / Student $15
Olivier Messiaen – Quatour pour la fin du temps
Please join the artists for a complementary glass of bubbles and sumptious nibbles after the event*
Macarthur Clough (clarinet)
Lachlan O’Donnell (violin)
Katherine Philp (cello)
Alex Raineri (artistic director / piano)
Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time was written in 1941 while Messiaen was a prisoner of war in German captivity. It is widely recognized as one of the most emotionally powerful pieces of Western classical music, particularly in light of the context of the composition and its premiere performance in a prisoner-of-war camp. The work was first premiered by professional musicians among his fellow prisoners, with Messiaen himself at the piano. It is a prime example of the composers incorporation of both birdsong and religion as extra-musical impetus for narrative.
The work is in eight movements, as follows with abridged descriptions from the composer himself;
1) Crystal Liturgy – between three and four in the morning, the awakening of birds: a solo blackbird or nightingale improvises, surrounded by a shimmer of sound, by a halo of trills lost very high in the trees. Transpose this onto a religious plane and you have the harmonious silence of Heaven.
2) Vocalise, for the Angel who announces the end of time – the first and third parts (very short) evoke the power of this mighty angel, a rainbow upon his head and clothed with a cloud, who sets one foot on the sea and one foot on the earth. In the middle section are the impalpable harmonies of heaven. In the piano, sweet cascades of blue-orange chords, enclosing in their distant chimes the almost plainchant song of the violin and cello.
3) Abyss of birds – the abyss is time with its sadness, its weariness. The birds are the opposite to Time; they are our desire for light, for stars, for rainbows, and for jubilant songs.
4) Interlude – Scherzo, of a more individual character than the other movements, but linked to them nevertheless by certain melodic recollections.
5) Praise to the eternity of Jesus – Jesus is considered here as the Word. A broad infinitely slow phrase on the cello magnifies with love and reverence the eternity of the Word, powerful and gentle, whose time never runs out. “In the beginning was the Word, and Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1 – King James Version).
6) Dance of Fury, for the Seven Trumpets – the four instruments in unison imitate gongs and trumpets (the first six trumpets of the Apocalypse followed by various disasters, the trumpet of the seventh angel announcing consummation of the mystery of God). Music of stone, formidable granite sound; irresistible movement of steel, huge blocks of purple rage, icy drunkenness.
7) Tangle of Rainbows, for the Angel who announces the end of time – hearkening back to the 2nd movement, the powerful angel appears, above all the rainbow that covers him … In my dreams, I hear and see ordered chords and melodies, known colors and shapes; then, after this transitional stage, I pass through the unreal and suffer, with ecstasy, a tournament; a roundabout of superhuman sounds and colors. These swords of fire, this blue-orange lava, these sudden stars: there is the tangle, there are the rainbows!
8) Praise to the Immortality of Jesus – a counterpart to the intensely gripping cello solo in the 5th movement, this is an extended violin eulogy bringing the work to a close. Ascending up to the heavens, the rising violin line represents the ascent of man to his god, the child of God to his Father, the being made divine towards Paradise.