Le Banquet Celeste by Messiaen performed by Dame Gillian Weir
Messiaen’s compositional style was very complex - he used Greek and Hindu rhythms, and specialy designed modes of limited transposition. In addition some of his other significant influences include his profound Catholic faith, music of exotic cultures (Japan, Indonesia, and Gamelan). He also had a curious ability to see his modes and harmonies in different colours which he also used in his works.
However, perhaps the most important influence on Messiaen’s style were bird songs. He travelled widely, recorded, transcribed songs of birds of various regions of the Earth, and used them extensively in his compositions. Because of all these influences Messiaen’s style is very unique, and it is almost impossible to mistake him with somebody else.
”Le Banquet Celeste” (Heavenly Feast) is one of his earliest compositions. In this incredible slow-tempo work, his truly original conception of time is apparent. Although the piece is only 2 pages long, it lasts about 7 minutes. This slow tempo is a symbol of the heavenly feast which lasts eternally. In fact, it raises certain challenges to the performer which are quite different from fast compositions. Both performers and listeners have to employ all their mental powers, focus and treat this piece as a real meditation. This way one can dive for 7 minutes into the depths of the limitless time.