Messiaen: Quartet for the End of Time - Rohde: one wing / Left Coast Chamber Ensemble
The provocative and beguiling Left Coast Chamber Ensemble (LCCE) comprises the crème de la crème of the San Francisco Bay Area’s musicians. Their motto: nothing is out of bounds, and anything is possible. Presenters of all types of music including small ensemble, vocal, orchestral, multi-media and operatic, a select group comes together for this recording of Olivier Messiaen’s seminal chamber work, Quartet for the End of Time. Written during the composer’s confinement in World War II, he maintained hope, expressing, “The abyss is Time with its sadness, its weariness. The birds are the opposite … our desire for light, for stars, for rainbows, and for jubilant songs.” LCCE co-founder and prize-winning composer Kurt Rohde echoes this sentiment in his Messiaen-inspired one wing for violin and piano, heard here in its world-premiere recording.
I’ve gone from having two or three recordings of this eerie but emotionally powerful work, one of them being Tashi’s, to just having one, and that is the EMI recording made under the composer’s own supervision and featuring his wife, Yvonne Loriod, as the pianist. (Interestingly, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau’s son Manuel is the cellist in this performance.) But after listening to the Left Coast Ensemble’s new recording, I’m tempted to add it to my collection.
Their performance is a bit brisker and tauter than either Tashi’s or Messiaen’s but not lacking in emotional intensity. Although I felt that the Left Coast Ensemble’s more linear approach gave a more “streamlined” profile to the music, this is sometimes to its favor as it brings out the structure of the work better. And as I say, the individual members of this quartet clearly get the music’s message. Indeed, I found clarinetist Jerome Simas’ long solo in the third section (“The Abyss of the Birds”) to be as forlorn as that of Wolfgang Meyer on the Messiaen-Loriod recording, and better than that of Stoltzman with Tashi.
– Art Music Lounge
Catalog Number: AV2452
Composer: Kurt Rohde, Olivier Messiaen
Orchestra/Ensemble: The Left Coast Ensemble
Performer: Anna Presler, Eric Zivian