Ralph van Raat and Håkon Austbø Record Messiaen’s Visions de l’Amen and Debussy’s En Blanc et Noir for Naxos
October 13, 2010
Between 6–8 July 2010 in Haitinkzaal, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Ralph van Raat and Håkon Austbø recorded Messiaen’s Visions de l’Amen and Debussy’s En Blanc et Noir for release on Naxos 8.572472.
Ralph van Raat
Håkon Austbø writes:
After having recorded the complete Messiaen solo works for Naxos in the nineties, it seemed logical to continue with the monumental Visions de l’Amen for two pianos. However, it turned out not to be so easy to find a suitable partner, so when Ralph van Raat proposed that we do this together, I was very happy.
It was quite natural for me to choose the second piano part, the one I always played. Having worked with Messiaen, I feel very close to him and to his musicianship and it means that I play “his” part—the one he always played when he performed the piece—with special joy. Luckily, Ralph consented to do the first piano (that Yvonne Loriod used to play) which contains many of the technical challenges—challenges that he meets in a brilliant way.
As with many of the greater Messiaen works, it is one of true cosmic dimensions, and performing it is like transcending this world and being taken into another world—a world of spiritual ecstasy, of sublime colours, of immense joy.
Equally rewarding is to perform Debussy’s En blanc et noir. It is one of the finest pieces for two pianos in the literature, appreciated by too few. It contains the ironic humour and the directness of Debussy’s late style as well as threatening darkness reflecting the horrors of war. I once had the privilege of recording this work with the late Claude Helffer, my very first recording in the early seventies. Now it is I who record it with a younger colleague, and it gives me great pleasure.
Ralph van Raat Biography & Discography
Håkon Austbø Biography & Discography