Messiaen’s masterwork goes for the lot: rocks, birds and throws in the song of the star Aldebaran for good measure.

CHAMBERINSTRUMENTAL•  VOCAL •  OPERA

Messiaen
Aux Canyons Des Étoiles…
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Christoph Eschenbach
London Philharmonic Orchestra LPO0083 (2CD)

THERE’S GOLD IN THEM THERE CANYONS…

Fresh recordings of Olivier Messiaen’s Des Canyons aux Étoiles…(From the Canyons to the Stars…) come along only rarely. Scored for four soloists – piano, French horn, glockenspiel and xylorimba – really every player in Messiaen’s orchestra needs to be a virtuosic soloist too and few composers throw out as many hardcore challenges to orchestral percussionists as Messiaen. But given that Des Canyons aux Étoiles…is essentially a philosophical and spiritual portrait in sound of the Bryce Canyon in Utah, with its shape-shifting rock structures and vistas of sheer science-fiction awe, it would have been odd had Messiaen not attempted to accentuate the primacy of sound over music by recalibrating the expected relationships between harmony, melody and rhythm.

Messiaen’s hills are not so...

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