Quatuor pour la fin du temps

Tuesday 11 April brought the concert I had been most looking forward to – a performance of Olivier Messiaen’s ‘Quatuor pour la fin du temps’. I was not disappointed – it was superbly played by the quartet of Renaud Capuçon, violin, Kian Soltani, cello, Pascal Moragues, clarinet and Hélène Mercier, piano.

The work was written by Messiaen in the most difficult circumstances imaginable – in Stalag VIII-A, a German prisoner of war camp, during the winter of 1941. He wrote it for the only instruments available in the camp – piano, violin, cello and clarinet. Its eight movements are a mixture of solos and duets, one trio and in only four of the movements do all the instruments feature.

It is a deeply expressive work and the Aix quartet certainly did it justice. The final movement, ‘Louange à l’Immortalité de Jésus’ for violin and piano was particularly beautifully played.

Renaud Capuçon, Hélène Mercier, Kian Soltani and Pascal Moragues

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