The first two full reviews of St Francis of Assisi, Messiaen's masterpiece, Prom 70. Mark's is on boulezian, see link on right and mine is here
St Francis of
Metzmacher conducted this cast and choir in
God himself speaks through the massed choir, in the mystical scene where Francis receives the stigmata. It’s a magnificent, multi-layered piece that’s very difficult to carry off, as Messiaen wanted to create the effect of light and sound flying forth in different directions and at different speeds, but Metzmacher achieved it, combining precise discipline with ecstatic, exuberant timbre. Moments like this show how much Stockhausen earned from Messiaen in terms of celestial vision, and the idea of sound moving through space.
Heidi Grant Murphy was the shimmering voiced Angel, and Rodney Gilfry sang St Francis. He sings for about 3 hours, and over a wide range, hovering like an interface between the monks’s cadences and the ecstasy in the orchestra. It’s heroic. This will be one of the high points of his career. Hubert Delamboye’s Leper was sung with vivid dissonance, suddenly soothed when Francis cures him with a kiss. The 200 strong choir were very well-prepared, singing extremely complex parts with perfect precision. Full honours, though, to Metzmacher and the Hague Philharmonic for vibrant playing that brought out the translucent glories in this highly original music.There weren't many people at this Prom but those who were there were dedicated, Several curtain calls, as if going home might break the spell