The Technicolor Music of Olivier Messiaen

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It has become a sort of holiday tradition on Hammered! to indulge in the technicolor music of Olivier Messiaen, and, to be honest, we find any excuse a valid excuse to program the composer's two-hour holiday season epic Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus. Tune in at 10 AM this week for four movements per day of this twenty movement Q2 Music Holiday Classic.

Composed in 1944 for his soon to be wife, the pianist Yvonne Loriod, Messiaen's Vingt Regard is a contemplation of time, space, spirituality and existence. It stands as one of the most titanic, ambitious and affecting compositions in all the piano repertoire, and despite one's spiritual beliefs, the immediacy of its language and the universality of its expression make it accessible for any listener, and offers one of the most unique listening experiences in music. 

Numerous pianists have made the Vingt Regard a hallmark of their repertoire (including Christopher Taylor, who recently gave a magnificent performance of the piece at the Metropolitan Museum of Art), and despite there being extraordinary recordings by Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Peter Serkinand Loriod herself, our performance this year comes from Steven Osborne, whose probing and meticulously detailed reading is unmatched.

Sharing the hour with Messiaen's Vingt Regards this holiday week is music of another extremely spiritual composer, Johann Sebastian Bach. Tune in during the first half of each show for keyboard music ranging from multi-keyboard concertos, to preludes and fugues, partitas and other solo works performed by Andras Schiff, Trevor Pinnock, Glenn Gould and others.