Centenary swansong from the moreish birdman
This article is from 2008.
Even over half way through the 100th anniversary year of the birth of Olivier Messiaen – numerous concerts, recordings and broadcasts of his music at every turn – the urge is still to hear more, not less. Regarding himself as much an ornithologist as a composer, Messiaen’s music is uniquely influenced by birdsong, which he notated from throughout the world and used in all of his music.
The International Festival’s celebration of one of France’s greatest composers is two-fold. Following in Messiaen’s footsteps as organist and composer is Naji Hakim, an extraordinary virtuoso who gives two late-night recitals on St Giles’ Cathedral, pairing Messiaen with his own compositions and improvisation. On the evening in between, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra swells its ranks to over 120 players for Eclairs Sur l’au-Delà – translated as illuminations of the hereafter – which was the final work of the deeply religious Messiaen before he died in 1992.
St Giles’ Cathedral, 473 2000, 9 & 11 Aug, 10.30pm, £17; Usher Hall, 473 2000, 10 Aug, 8pm, £10–17.