Olivier Messiaen's was a muscular, physical faith, expressed in revelatory bursts and deafening epiphanies. He sermonized through sonic spectacle: “éclairs sur l'au dela” (“Visions of the Beyond”) consists of a procession of charged and visionary moments, ringing with supersaturated dissonances, Doomsday drums, masses of trembling strings and explosions of ecstatic chimes. But he did not really need a symphony orchestra to achieve this dazzling, stained-glass luminescence. His colossal opus, “Vingt regards sur l'enfant-Jésus” (“Twenty Views of the Baby Jesus”) is threaded through with brilliantly hued harmonies and a visceral, mystical urgency. Using nothing but a poor, percussive piano, he evokes heavenly fanfares and seraphs'thundering harps, as well as the fragile trace of a prayer floated in the wind. “Vingt regards” is the musical equivalent of a one-man reenactment of the Bible.
By John Schaefer on 09.30.08 in Reviews
Bela Bartok's reputation among musicologists rests largely on his string quartets, a form in which he was arguably the greatest composer after Beethoven. But most listeners prefer the splashy Concerto For Orchestra....
By John Schaefer on 11.24.06 in Reviews
Veljo Tormis does not have quite the international reputation of his famous Estonian countryman, Arvo Pärt, but fans of the latter's "holy minimalism" will find much to like in Tormis's folk-based...
By Justin Davidson on 01.16.15 in Features
She is no longer the goofy but serious alien girl with the long flowing hair; instead she’s a sage.
By Justin Davidson on 12.02.14 in Features
Justin Davidson examines the way recent solo cello albums by Alisa Weilerstein, Jeffrey Ziegler and Maya Beiser reinvent that wordless, eloquent voice.