The title Miègjorn (the Meije in ancient Provençal) implies the burning mountain indicating the midday, the sun at the zenith. It is not surprising that this protruding stone is perpetually in filigree in the music of Olivier Messiaen. A true manifesto that caused a scandal, the “Three Little Liturgies of the Divine Presence” were a scarlet flower planted in the tar of a world darkened by conflicts and differences of interest. The image at the top of the score of the “Pentecost Mass” gives a view of the Meije from the Terrasses, Olivier Messiaen’s privileged place.
In my proposal, many data related to the personality of Oliver Messiaen cross, succeed one another and superimpose themselves in the hope of creating a vital broth of the formidable commitment of this composer. The liturgical references are centered around the Apocalypse of St. John, the Ascension, Pentecost, crucial points in the references to Olivier Messiaen himself. “Chronochromie”, one of the very great works of the 20th century in my opinion, is one of the important sources, too, in my proposal. The play of colors, the permutations of duration, the polyphonies in strata are in relation with the flattening (voice with no title) of 12 bird songs, in direct relation, therefore, with the radicalism of the approach in “Epôde”. The Apocalypse and the Ascension are synthetically the two main opposable referents negotiated during this trajectory. Beyond the links with the liturgy, Greece and Asia (Japan, Indonesia, India) are very present, in connection with rhythmic, timbre or phonetic treatments.
Like an aircraft approaching an attractive planet without crashing into it, it is certainly always very delicate to engage a writing that wishes to approach a reading of the imposing personality of Olivier Messiaen. It is therefore not a question, for me, of directly attaching my own writing to Olivier Messiaen’s modes of writing, but rather of trying to reinterpret them in what seems to me to be their essence and their permanence. My stay in his class at the Paris Conservatory allowed me to discover, in this professor, the opening of a thought without any proselytism (neither religious nor aesthetic). Personalities as different as Boulez, Xenakis or Stockhausen were able to survive in his class (and even Messiaen himself was able to survive with such students! And I hold his “Modes of Value and Intensity” as a gesture of humor and humor in the face of the harassment of the serial multinational particularly oppressive in its environment at the time). I am not particularly faithful to the Catholic ritual nor necessarily in adherence with all of Messiaen’s musical production, but as the times advance, I realize the immensity of this “Roc de joie”, even though I was well aware, in his time, of the political and philosophical erosions resulting from wars and an aggressive materialism that is ever more aggressive today.
Miègjorn is the luminous apogee of a mountain of the sunny Alps at the limit of Provence, one can understand the attachment of this man to this ascending and intransigent place in its protruding minerality. The news of Messiaen is not necessarily, in 2008, that a memory for its hundredth anniversary as would be a milestone on the road to official culture. Rather, its topicality is rather in the antidote proposed to the moroseness of the absence of faith and spiritual dimension. The current watchword: “work more to earn more”, certainly does not carry a particularly edifying enthusiasm, and even if one can be aware of the ferocity of very concrete miseries, it seems that human aspirations cannot be limited to the only dimensions suggested by this watchword. Political philosophy is certainly linked to economic contingencies that are sometimes seriously unavoidable, but it is even more worrying to see it sink into an abyss without dreams, without thoughts and without utopias like a baroque line without ornament. The “crisis of contemporary music”? For decades it was the varied theme as it lost consciousness. Could one suggest an authoritative refusal of the state of crisis? (Or at least raise the question “the crisis in relation to what? The state of crisis can in itself be a real culture of impotence). It would certainly be possible to resurrect in itself unsuspected energies and consciousness of the environment and hope to be able to respond in good relevance to the provisional situation. Creation is to be reinvented every day, it is in the sense that like any biological movement, contemporary music is dead as long as it is named, but the process of the contemporary movement of music, this one is very much alive because it is linked to the answer or the question) to give to each movement of the moment of today in all its human and social dimension. It is in this sense that Messiaen (and others that the cultured culture will impose in their time) places itself in force above the anniversaries consented by this culture fixed and imposed like a coral stone rarely, like pollution often. Recharge my batteries at this “Roc de Joie” is certainly not the worst of initiatives…