Messiaen’s Nativity

December 29, 2011

As I’ve probably made clear in previous years, non-hackneyed effusions of Christmas mean a lot to me, the more tinsel-bedecked having worn out its welcome by about adolescence. It was a joy last week to see a Twitter that ran

I heard some hypnotizing Messiaen organ business in Westminster Abbey on Sunday. Visceral is the word.

Now comes this refreshing account of the same repertory as in the Abbey’s “Messiaen organ business” — this time in San Francisco (and, coincidentally, by a performer whom I first met when we were both much younger and he was playing in Westminster Abbey).

Since some of my own most memorable musical experiences have come from walking around a darkened church while a colleague played, I’ve often thought of how that experience might be created for others in a non-conventional concert. The linked article confirms for me that it could work.

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That screen that divides the Abbey just beyond the choir stalls has the organ console on top of it.

One of the organists who played at yesterday’s wedding tells us what his life is like.