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Penguin Guide, January 2009

MESSIAEN: Preludes / 4 Rhythmic Studies / Canteyodjaya 8.554090
MESSIAEN: Fauvette des jardins (La) / Offrandes oubliees (Les) 8.554655

This impressive Norwegian pianist (who is domiciled in the Netherlands) is totally in sympathy with Messiaen’s elusive idiom, and these latest additions to his discography are as recommendable as their predecessors. Austbø can certainly be recommended alongside Peter Hill, though not in preference to him.

Philippe Simon
Repertoire, May 2000

"Le jeu d'Austbo [dans Les Pr‚ludes] est superbe de d‚licatesse de toucher. TrŠs attentif … l'intense po‚sie de ces pages d'une ‚mouvante sinc‚rit‚, il s‚duira imm‚diatement ceux qui seraient encore effray‚s par la musique de Messiaen.

"Austbo displays a superbly delicate touch [in the Preludes]. His attention to detail in expressing the intense poetry and profound sincerity of this music will immediately appeal to those still frightened by Messiaen's music."

Malcolm Hayes
Classic FM, April 2000

Hakon Austbo's third volume of Messiaen's Piano Music offers gorgeous sounds in the composer's early, post-Debussyan set of Preludes, plus the wirier exoticism of the four Rhythmic Studies inspired by Papuan native culture and Canteyodjaya-the title of which comes from Indian Karnatic theory of rhythm. Austbo's expertise ideally captures the verve and sweep of Canteyodjaya in particular.

Michael Oliver
Gramophone, February 2000

"Discussing previous volumes in this series (12/94 and 2/98) I've mentioned Austbo's subtle palette of keyboard colour, and his sensitive feeling for Messiaen's characteristic silences. I should have remarked-and it's evident here throughout the Preludes especially-upon his ability to produce different degrees of dynamic simultaneously, without the quieter elements ever being overwhelmed. It adds an almost three-dimensional quality to his sound. Which is not to say that his playing is ever austere or dry; indeed its primary characteristic is sheer tonal beauty, emphasised by what sounds lie a very fine piano in a pleasing acoustic (that of St Martin's Church, East Woodhay).

More spectacular pianism is called for in the vivid colours and juxtaposition of Canteyodjaya, of course, and Austbo provides it in fine measure, but even here sheer beauty of sound seems to have been a high imperative... Messiaen has been very fortunate in his keyboard interpreters. Austbo is among the best of them, and to have such playing available at such a low price is a cause for grateful rejoicing."

Michael Oliver)
Gramophone, February 2000

David Hurwitz

"Håkon Austbø's ongoing survey of Messiaen's complete piano music triumphantly vindicates Naxos' contention that high quality doesn't have to mean high price. His performances are as fine as any in the catalog, and this latest volume certainly upholds the high standards that he has established to date. This disc contains the composer's earliest piano works, including the heavily Debussy-influenced Preludes, each with fanciful titles in the French tradition dating back to Couperin, and beginning with the composer's very first "bird" piece, "The Dove". Both the Rhythmic Studies and Cantéyodjayâ reflect Messiaen's involvement with Hindu rhythms and musical modes, and Austbo appropriately brings out the latter work's resemblance to the more ecstatic moments of the epic Turangalila-symphonie, the major work of this period. Unlike the music of many other composers, it pays to hear Messiaen's output in chronological order because his evolution as an artist followed such a clear line of development. If you harbor a curiosity about this modern master's keyboard works, then this is the place to begin your investigations."

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