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Des Canyons aux Étoiles… - Appel Interstellaire

Olivier Messiaen (b. 1908 - d. 1992)

Hervé Joulain

Hervé Joulain

Composer
Olivier Messiaen (b. 1908 - d. 1992)
Composition Year
1971
Artists
Hervé Joulain [horn]

Programme Note Writer:
© Ian Fox

Messiaen wrote his huge orchestral work “From the Canyons to the Stars…” as a commission from the legendary American arts patron, Alice Tully, for the Chamber Music Society of New York. It was to mark the USA bicentennial of 1976.  He was fascinated by the great canyons of Utah which he had visited in 1974 and was immediately enthralled by their wonderful colours and how their strata revealed many periods in time.  The brilliant star-lit nights of the desert also contributed to the work, a paean to nature and the mysteries of space. Many topics are considered: various birds, certain canyons, interstellar space and the concept of the Celestial City. The result was a large score in three parts and twelve movements, lasting some 90 minutes.  It was first performed in the Alice Tully Hall, New York, on November 20th, 1974, by the chamber group Musica Aeterna.  It was written for a large chamber ensemble but for the sixth movement of Part One – Interstellar Call – he employed just a solo horn. In fact he took the piece from a memorial he had written in 1971 to a former pupil and later colleague, the composer Jean-Pierre Guézec [1931-1971].

The movement is one of the shorter in the work at about six minutes and involves a wide range of difficult effects on the horn, including trills, wavering pitches and flutter-tonguing. A bravura hunting call opens the music and a cadenza-like sequence of motifs quickly follows. This is succeeded by a threnody, presumably to honour Guézec, with magical echo effects, finally fading away into outer space. 

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Des Canyons aux Étoiles… - Appel Interstellaire

Composer: Olivier Messiaen (b. 1908 - d. 1992)
Performance date: Saturday 29th June 2013
Venue: Bantry House Library, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland,

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Composer Olivier Messiaen (b. 1908 - d. 1992)
Work Title Des Canyons aux Étoiles… - Appel Interstellaire
Composition Year 1971
Artist(s) Hervé Joulain [horn]
Performance Date Saturday 29th June 2013
Performance Venue Bantry House Library, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland,
Event Late Night Concert
Duration 00:07:10
Recording Engineer Damian Chennells, RTÉ lyric fm
Instrumentation Category Solo
Instrumentation hn
Programme Note Writer © Ian Fox

Messiaen wrote his huge orchestral work “From the Canyons to the Stars…” as a commission from the legendary American arts patron, Alice Tully, for the Chamber Music Society of New York. It was to mark the USA bicentennial of 1976.  He was fascinated by the great canyons of Utah which he had visited in 1974 and was immediately enthralled by their wonderful colours and how their strata revealed many periods in time.  The brilliant star-lit nights of the desert also contributed to the work, a paean to nature and the mysteries of space. Many topics are considered: various birds, certain canyons, interstellar space and the concept of the Celestial City. The result was a large score in three parts and twelve movements, lasting some 90 minutes.  It was first performed in the Alice Tully Hall, New York, on November 20th, 1974, by the chamber group Musica Aeterna.  It was written for a large chamber ensemble but for the sixth movement of Part One – Interstellar Call – he employed just a solo horn. In fact he took the piece from a memorial he had written in 1971 to a former pupil and later colleague, the composer Jean-Pierre Guézec [1931-1971].

The movement is one of the shorter in the work at about six minutes and involves a wide range of difficult effects on the horn, including trills, wavering pitches and flutter-tonguing. A bravura hunting call opens the music and a cadenza-like sequence of motifs quickly follows. This is succeeded by a threnody, presumably to honour Guézec, with magical echo effects, finally fading away into outer space.