The Palau de la Música Catalana welcomes the dream team of a generation to perform Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time. The violinist Isabelle Faust, the cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras, the clarinetist and composer Jörg Widmann and the pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard add their talents in this essential event of the season of the modernist room.
Regular artists of the Barcelona auditorium, both the German violinist and the Canadian cellist have been present practically every season at the Palau since in 2014 they performed those mythical concerts by Schumann with the Freiburger Barockorchester that ended up being broadcast by Pablo Heras-Casado under the direction of the Mezzo channel from some other European room.
Whether in trios, duets or as orchestra soloists, the stars of the Franco-German classical music have paraded across the Palau stage without disappointing. On this occasion, however, the meeting is even more unusual, since Jörg Widmann joins as clarinetist, who was recently a guest composer at the hall and who this season will premiere a choral piece in Catalan - commissioned by the Palau - within the cycle La Casa del Cants and directed by himself.
The fourth musician in contention, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, is considered one of the best interpreters of Messiaen, with whom he had a close relationship, as well as with Ligeti, whose entire compositions for piano have been recorded. He has also worked with Stockhausen, George Benjamin and Pierre Boulez, being the first solo pianist of the Ensemble Intercontemporain at a very young age.
Jean-Guihen Queyras also passed through the ranks of the Intercontemporain at the hands of Boulez, before beginning a career as an international soloist. And it is not the first time that he joins Aimard to perform chamber music. Together with Isabelle Faust they will play this Wednesday, just before the Messiaen Quartet, Elliott Carter's Epigrams for violin, cello and piano, which in fact were premiered posthumously in 2013 by Aimard himself on piano. A series of twelve short pieces with contrasting mood swings.
The concert will also include works by Alban Berg, Maurice Ravel and Widman i Elliott himself. It will start with the atonality and ambivalence of the Four Pieces for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 5 by Berg, followed by Ravel's Sonata for violin and cello, composed at the end of his life with great economy of means but very melodic. Widmann will play his Fantasy for solo clarinet that he composed in 1993 when he was 20 years old.
The Quartet for the End of Time was composed by Messiaen while he was in a concentration camp for combatants during World War II, specifically in the German prisoner of war camp at Görlitz. Premiered in January 1941, still in the camp and under the rain, it is despite the precarious conditions of the composer's most unclassifiable and celebrated pieces.
Messiaen was there with three other professional musicians, the clarinetist Henri Akoka, to whom he showed the sketches for what would become the Abîme des oiseaux, the violinist Jean le Boulaire and the cellist Ètienne Pasquier, also prisoners. So he wrote a little trio for them. The piece became the Quartet with him at the piano, in a strange combination of instruments.