Kent Nagano conducts Olivier Messiaen

Three essential works by the masterly French composer Messiaen on three CDs - now released by BR-KLASSIK: : the oratorio "La Transfiguration de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ", the song cycle "Poèmes pour Mi", and "Chronochromie" for large orchestra. Kent Nagano conducts Chor & Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks.

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In celebration of the 70th birthday of Kent Nagano

KENT NAGANO conducts OLIVIER MESSIAEN
La Transfiguration de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ – Poèmes pour Mi – Chronochromie

Few performers are more familiar with the musical language of the French composer Olivier Messiaen than the American conductor Kent Nagano. Nagano has had Messiaen’s orchestral works and oratorios in his programme for several decades now, and also participated in the world premiere of “Saint François d’Assise”, Messiaen’s only opera. During the year 1982 Nagano spent his time with Messiaen in Paris, where not only an artistic relationship but also a close personal one developed between the two musicians. BR-KLASSIK has now released three masterpieces by the French composer with the magical sound, presented in recent years to the Munich concert audience by Kent Nagano and the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks. The main highlight here is the oratorio “La Transfiguration de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ” (The Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ) for chorus, seven solo instruments and orchestra, composed between 1965 and 1969.

The first and second of the album’s three CDs features Messiaen’s oratorio. In addition to the highly-acclaimed Bavarian Radio Chorus and the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, seven internationally renowned artistic personalities – Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano), Lionel Cottet (violoncello), Henrik Wiese (flute), Stefan Schilling (clarinet), Cristian Pilz (xylorimba) and Guido Marggrander (marimba) – can be heard participating as instrumental soloists. The acclaimed Munich concert events of June 19 and 23, 2017 in the Philharmonie im Gasteig were recorded live, in proven BR quality.

The third CD is divided equally between Messiaen’s song cycle “Poèmes pour Mi” (1937) for soprano and orchestra, sung highly authentically by the French singer Jenny Daviet, and the multi-movement work “Chronochromie” (1959/60) for large orchestra. The live recordings were made in the Herkulessaal of the Munich Residenz on February 14 and 15, 2019 (Poèmes pour Mi) and July 2 and 6, 2018 (Chronochromie). These concerts were also outstanding highlights in the Munich concert programme.

The album offers three outstanding works by Messiaen with which Kent Nagano has been intimately familiar since the late 1970s and which he was able to discuss, analyse and polish in detail together with their composer. In his fascinating booklet text, Nagano describes his stay in Paris in the year 1982, during which he was able to come so close to Messiaen. Probably no other interpretations come closer than his to the French composer’s ideas, which were formulated very precisely at the time.

Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano
Lionel Cottet, violoncello
Henrik Wiese, flute
Stefan Schilling, clarinet
Cristian Pilz, xylorimba
Guido Marggrander, marimba
Jörg Hannabach, vibraphone

Jenny Daviet, soprano

Bavarian Radio Chorus
Matthias Ettmayr, baritone
Moon Yung Oh, tenor
Howard Arman, chorus master

Chor & Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Kent Nagano,
conductor

3 CDs
Product Number 900203
Total time: CD1: 32:28 / CD2: 61:59 / CD3: 50:37


  • Three essential works by the masterly French composer Messiaen on two CDs: the oratorio “La Transfiguration de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ”, the song cycle “Poèmes pour Mi”, and “Chronochromie” for large orchestra
  • Outstanding interpretations under the direction of Kent Nagano, who is intimately familiar with Messiaen’s music and was able to exchange ideas with the composer personally in 1982. Nagano describes this in more detail in the fascinating booklet text.
  • Recording of Munich concert events from June 2017 (La Transfiguration de Notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ), July 2018 (Chronochromie) and February 2019 (Poèmes pour Mi).
  • Performances feature internationally renowned soloists, the highly acclaimed BR Chorus, and the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks.