Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Cordelia Williams Vingt Regards at Kings London

Cordelia after her recital
Yesterday to Kings College London for the lunchtime recital which had Cordelia Williams performing 5 of the Vingt Regards sur l'enfant-Jesus as part of her brilliant Messaien2015 project.

This is a simply extraordinary composition: the entire sequence lasts about 2h15m which makes it probably the longest piano composition in the serious repetory.

The selection we had was:
  • Regard du Père
  • Regard de la Vierge
  • Regard du silence
  • Regard des prophètes, des bergers et des Mages
  • Regard des Anges
  • Regard de l'Esprit de joie 
 Annoyingly I've lost the short programme notes that Cordlia provided which included descriptions from Messiaen of the movements. I recall the enormous trombones of the Angels as they learn with astonishment that God had chosen to unite himself, not with them, but with humans. In a very insightful talk before the performance she pointed out that there were (real) terrifying angels, not the prettified ones of Victoriana. She also spoke of the paradox of a movement representing silence and of the complex framing of the Shepherds and the Magi by the prophets.

However, excellent though her talk was, it was mightily surpassed by the brilliance of the performance. It was utterly transporting and the only feasible reactions at many points were to shut one's eyes and listen in an almost trance-like state. Words pretty much fail me.

I wish that I had time to stay for the rest of the study day. And I would love to hear her give a complete performance - though even she might just struggle to commit the whole 2hrs15 to memory??

She is doing a selection in London, Cheltenham and Wiltshire later in the year. Catch it if you can!

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