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Olivier Messiaen – Quartet for the End of Time

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In the awesome space beneath the Great East Window, (the Apocalypse Window), York Chamber Music Festival artists will perform Olivier Messiaen Quartet for the End of Time. This iconic masterpiece of twentieth century music was written during the Second World War while Messiaen was a prisoner of war in Stalag VIIIA, Gorlitz, Germany in the dark heart of Europe.

As famously told in the window, Messiaen also turned to the Apocalypse narrative found in Chapter 10 of the Book of Revelation, not as destruction, not as dread or nothingness, but as a gateway to great love that emanates from suffering. Inspired by the stained glass windows of the great French cathedrals he described himself as a “painter of sounds”.

In a camp, freezing cold and desolate, with no knowledge of the future, Messiaen wrote music to show that fear drops away. In its place is an ecstatic vision of the triumph of the Divine Nature of all things.

In the Lady Chapel there is to be a convergence in light, colour and sound which draws us towards the cosmic themes written about by St John and represented in two great masterpieces; Thornton’s stained glass windows and Messiaen’s ethereal music. Where else in the world could this drama be played out so poignantly?

“And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever and ever … that there should be time no longer.”

Instrumentalists of York Chamber Music Festival  – John Lenehan (piano), Sacha Rattle (clarinet), John Mills (violin) Tim Lowe (cello)

 

Doors open at 6.30pm

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