Olivier Messiaen, Les Corps Glorieux


This new cycle is the fruit of the summer of 1939, which Messiaen spent in his usual mountain retreat at Pétichet (one of the four lakes of Laffrey) in the Dauphiné, opposite the Grand Serre mountain. It was the last score he finished before being called-up into the French army in September 1939 and his subsequent imprisonment in Germany.
After his return to Paris, Messiaen himself gave the first performance in November 1941, at a private concert in La Trinité. The score was published by Leduc in 1942.

The subtitle “Seven brief visions of the life of the resurrected” may be misleading, for these “visions” are only brief with regard to Eternity, and the  scope of the whole work is equivalent to that of La Nativité.

The Corps Glorieux marks an evolution in the musical language of Messiaen, which one might call a considerable step ahead: the assimilation of Indian music and of Gregorian chant into the score bears a strong influence on its rhythmical and melodical elements, bringing  them new liberty and a complexity hitherto unknown in his music.

L’Ascension (Four Symphonic Meditations) is Messiaen’s first extended cycle for organ, preceded only by isolated pieces :  Le Banquet céléste, the Diptyque and Apparition de l’église éternelle. It was originally written for orchestra in 1933. The following year the composer transcribed three of the four movments  for organ, writing a new third movement: Transports de joie d’une âme devant la gloire de Dieu qui est la sienne.(Transports of Joy of a soul before the glory of Christ, which is its own glory).




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