Angela Hewitt writes …
The music of Olivier Messiaen immediately attracts our attention with its rhythm, variety of colour, technical brilliance, energy, joy, and spirituality. It is incredibly well written for the instrument, even though its difficulties may deter many a player. Audiences are rarely indifferent to it, and for many it has a very powerful effect.
The Préludes were written when Messiaen was about 20 and are remarkable pieces for one so young. They were premiered in 1931. The two 'Islands of Fire' are from his Quatre Études de rythme from 1950 and are dedicated to Papua New Guinea. Messiaen states that his themes are characterized 'by the violence of the magic rites of that country'. He wrote Vingt Regards ('Twenty Contemplations of the Child Jesus') for his wife Yvonne Loriod. In it he uses the piano like an orchestra, demanding a huge range of dynamics, attacks, and timbres.
For this recording my wish was not only to present my favourite works by Messiaen, but also to give the listener an idea of the development of his writing—all on a single disc.