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Messiaen at Wilton's

EARLY MESSIAEN (Centenary year)

Messiaen - Fantasie, Theme and Varations, Quatuor Pour le Fin du Temps
and music by Stockhausen, Jolivet & Crumb

Peter Sheppard Skaerved - Violin
Roderick Chadwick - Piano
Neil Heyde - Cello
Roger Heaton - Clarinet

Wilton's Music Hall, London 19 March 2008

This last of the current series of concerts at Wilton's Music Hall organised by Peter Sheppard Skaerved with the Kreutzer String Quartet and colleagues was a most significant contribution to the Messiaen Centenary Year and a memorable event for the large audience which has grown during the series.

Wilton's proved an ideal venue for the massive Quatuor Pour le Fin du Temps, it's brave challenge against life in a prisoners of war camp echoed somehow by the unique interior of the old Music Hall, enjoying a vibrant new life as a perfect concert venue, despite obvious signs of its fight back from dilapidation. A fine, commanding performance after which Peter Sheppard Skaerved drew special attention to the contribution of the pianist, who "had to play thousands of notes" as against the many fewer of his colleagues. [The same artsts performed movements from the Quatuor illustrated concurrently by an artist, in a Symposium on Synesthesia

Also included were rarely heard shorter works, the powerful Theme and Varations for violin and piano, which put collosal demands upon the pianist, acknowledged from the platform by Peter S S, as does the still almost completely unknown 'Fantasie' from 1931, not released until a couple of years ago. *

For George Crumb's Nocturnes of 1964 (Night Music II) Peter ascended to the gallery and Roderick Chadwick stood to accompany him atmospherically on keyboard and strings of the piano. Another rare novelty was a very early pieceby Jolivet originally composed for ondes martenot and heard in a transcription for solo violin.

Stockhausen was represented by a text composition The Right Duration improvised by the four musicians; click on the title to see and hear it on the website of Colin Still, who recorded the concert and is involved in an ongoing filming project with the Kreutzer String Quartet.

These concerts have been lifted by Peter S S's unscripted spoken 'programme notes' to the works, always concise and interesting, and the players have generated an informal friendly atmosphere of a sort not possible in the main concert halls such as those on South Bank.

Peter Grahame Woolf


*Linn records has just released a recommendable Messiaen CD of similar repertoire, including the Quatuor Pour le Fin du Temps, played by the Hebrides Ensemble, who are based in Scotland. The notes and presentation are excellent, as are the performances. It is available for sample listening and on-line purchasing at
where you will see full details.
And finally, yet another version of the
Quatuor Pour le Fin du Temps and similar fill-ups comes from Signum [SIGCD126| with similar fill-ups - a comparative revieew from an enthusiast of this work would be welcome? For Optic Nerve's live recording of the Kreutzers etc see http://opticnerve.co.uk/AboutUs.html
June 2008

See also our review of the first concert in this series, with photos of Wilton's Concert Hall


Image: Peter Sheppard Skaerved with Messiaen in 1987