Sunday, 19 June 2016

Aldeburgh why I woke before dawn for Messiaen

In the reedbeds around Snape, Aldeburgh, Pierre-Laurent Aimard played Olivier Messiaen Catalogue d'Oiseaux to greet the dawn chorus. RSPB Minsmere, whose photo this is,  is one of the finest nature reserves in the UK, home to nearly 6,000 species.  The Alde River estuary is virtually untouched in many places, it's an area of outstanding beauty, and a haven for year-round residents as well as migrating species.  Aimard's Catalogue d'Oiseaux is  a metaphor for what the Aldeburgh Music Festival stands for.  Long may it be protected from exploitation and vested interests. Long may it stand for pristine excellence.

Messiaen was a deeply spiritual person, so for him birds were part of God's creation. Not for nothing that his great opera was Saint François d'Assise, the humble saint who embraced simplicity and talked to the birds.  (Read more about the opera here)  And so I am up with the birds, too, with darkness outside, listening quietly. An incredible haven of peace in a world that's become insane with extremist delusion.  This morning Aimard played Le Traquet stapazin (black-eared wheatear), La Bouscarle (Cetti's warbler) and Le Traquet rieur (black wheatear)  Never mind that these aren't the exact same birds at Aldeburgh. Messiaen's music is music, transcribing and adapting the spirit of the  birds.   It's 5 am now, and the music is over, but I'm going outside to sit in the garden for a bit. The sun's not quite out yet. It will be cold. But it's so beautiful.

BBC Radio 3 is broadcasting all four of Aimard's Catalogue d'Oiseaux concerts live (and on demand) plus other features on connected themes. Next concert 1pm, then 730pm and 11pm. Link HERE.

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