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I first came across this piece when accompanying one of the Pembroke College Organ Scholars who played it on the clarinet. It is a piece that was written for a wordless soprano, so lends itself extremely well to performances on the clarinet, trumpet, and even the theremin. Hearing recordings on all these different instruments made me realise how crucial words are for helping identify something as a human voice; without the words, there is not that much to separate the sound of a voice with that of, say, a theremin. As soon as I delved further into the piece some more I knew I wanted to try it on the organ, so set about creating an arrangement that put the sung melody into the feet on a 2’ flute, making some additions to the piano accompaniment to provide some more harmonic support at key moments.

The piece itself is one of Messiaen’s earlier works, written in 1935 when the composer was 27. In its version for organ, this is another piece that relies on the support of the building for its success. If it were performed in a space with a dry acoustic, the writing in the manuals would sound bare and perfunctory. The glorious bloom of Ely Cathedral, on the other hand, serves as a majestic sustain pedal.

from notes by Anna Lapwood © 2021


Studio Master: SIGCD688Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available


Track 13 on SIGCD688 [4'35] Download only

Track-specific metadata for SIGCD688 track 13

Recording date
6 January 2021
Recording venue
Ely Cathedral, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Adrian Peacock
Recording engineer
Mike Hatch
Hyperion usage
  1. Images (SIGCD688)
    Disc 1 Track 13
    Release date: September 2021
    Download only
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