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Les corps glorieux

Messiaen: Joie et Clarté des Corps Glorieux from "Les Corps Glorieux"

The multi-coloured visions of Olivier Messiaen occupy a unique place in the history of 20th century music. Turning his back on the western classical tradition, and on the complex techniques of structure and development that went with it, Messiaen created a completely new kind of music, a "music of eternity" in which the passing of time often seems to be magically suspended. Taking its inspiration from the ancient music of India and Greece, from Gregorian Chant, from birdsong, from mountains and stained-glass windows, his hypnotic, meditative style was ideally suited to the transmission of his essential message - which he described simply as "the expression of the truths of the Catholic Faith". In spite of increasing worldwide fame and many other commitments, Messiaen remained a practising church organist (at La Trinité in Paris) all his life, and many of his most important works were written for this instrument. Composed in 1939, Les Corps Glorieux (The Bodies in Glory) is a collection of "Seven short visions of the life of the resurrected" inspired by St.Paul’s great essay on life after death in I Corinthians 15: How are the dead raised up, and with what body do they come?...

Joie et Clarté des Corps Glorieux (Joy and Clarity of the Bodies in Glory)

"Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their father."

Vibrant rhythmic ostinati and the flights of an improvisatory, jazzy solo line dominate this wild, joyful vision; its heady progress is interrupted by two soft, tender interludes, before the music flies off the top of the keyboard in an impetuous final flourish. The bizarre tone-colours, rich in colourful harmonics, evoke the brilliant lights of the disembodied spirits, ‘shot through with glints of gold and flame’.

©David Gammie


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