La Fauvette Passerinette - a fascinating Messiaen discovery

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Faber Music is thrilled to announce the publication of a previously unknown piano work by Olivier Messiaen.  We believe it is the first publication of a piece by Messiaen to be produced by a British publisher.  Messiaen’s importance in the world of 20th century music – particularly in his output for piano – stretches way beyond his native France, and can hardly be exaggerated.
 
Whilst working on Messiaen’s sketches in 2012, renowned scholar and pianist Peter Hill came across several pages of what seemed to be a complete Messiaen piano work, written in a rapid yet decisive hand. This was a draft score for La Fauvette Passerinette (‘The Subalpine Warbler’) a previously unknown composition dating from 1961 and now published for the first time by Faber Music in a reconstruction by Hill. Perhaps intended to be part of a second cycle of Catalogue d’oiseaux, the 11-minute work demonstrates a fascinating development in Messiaen’s approach: more abstract than in the extant book (1956-8), it mainly works with birdsong itself, apart from a few background colour chords. Since the birdsong has to create its own harmony, the writing is richer than in the earlier Catalogue, a stepping stone to the later birdsong style in La Fauvette des jardins and the opera Saint François d’Assise
 
A certain amount of detective work was required to complete the piece but Hill believes he now has exactly what Messiaen intended. La Fauvette Passerinette has been received with great excitement by the fraternity of Messiaen pianists, a reaction paralleled by the press when reviewing Hill’s recording of the work.
 
The publication (available to buy here from the Faber Music Store) will be launched on 28 March 2015 at London’s Institut Français as part of their ‘It’s All About Piano’ Festival.  Peter Hill will perform La Fauvette Passerinette before being joined by Peter Donohoe for Messiaen’s Visions de l'Amen.
 
REVIEWS OF THE PREMIERE RECORDING
 
‘An utterly convincing and thrilling piece of piano writing – a fierce, sustained 11-minute study as rigorous as Messiaen’s piano works of the late 1940s, and culminating in a ferocious toccata that squeezes every bit of musical content out of the raw material.’ (Cited as one of the Guardian’s Best 10 Records of the Year.)
The Guardian (Andrew Clements), 22 October 2014
 
‘Quite a revelation’ ‘...a dramatic and pivotal piece…’
The Scotsman (Ken Walton) BBC Radio 3 CD Review, 15 November 2014
 
‘A significant and dramatic work, having clear resonances with the Catalogue d’oiseaux but with Messiaen clearly going in a different direction in his treatment of the birdsong.’
BBC Music Magazine (Christopher Dingle), December 2014 
 
‘What a discovery!  … A stunning 11-minute piano solo – joyous, syncopated and virtuosic…’
The Times (Richard Morrison), 8 November 2014
 
‘The initial duet has an innocently lyrical charm… gradually woven into a more fiendish texture: the final moto perpetuo creates a brilliant, headlong drive before ending with a witty chirrup.’
The Guardian (Rhian Evans), 18 February 2015
 

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