01. Liturgie de cristal
02. Vocalise, pour l'Ange qui annonce la fin du Temps
03. Abîme des oiseaux
Part 2 of 2. "The “Quatuor Pour la Fin du Temps”, opus 48, is performed by Oganes Girunyan, violin, Stanislav Yankovsky, clarinet, Stanislav Ovchinnikov, cello and Dina Novikova, piano.
Quotations are translated from Messiaen's Preface to the score.
• Liturgie de cristal
(I. "Liturgy of crystal", for the full quartet.)
Between three and four in the morning, the awakening of birds: a solo blackbird or nightingale improvises, surrounded by a shimmer of sound, by a halo of trills lost very high in the trees. Transpose this onto a religious plane and you have the harmonious silence of Heaven.
The opening movement begins with the solo clarinet imitating a blackbird's song, and the violin imitates a nightingale’s song. The underlying pulse is provided by the cello and piano: the cello repeats the same fifteen-note melody continuously, using only the notes C, E, D, F-sharp and B-flat. The piano part consists of a seventeen-note rhythm which is permuted strictly through twenty-nine chords, as if to give the listener a glimpse of something eternal.
• Vocalise, pour l'Ange qui annonce la fin du Temps
(II. "Vocalise, for the Angel who announces the end of time", for the full quartet.)
The first and third parts (very short) evoke the power of this mighty angel, a rainbow upon his head and clothed with a cloud, who sets one foot on the sea and one foot on the earth. In the middle section are the impalpable harmonies of heaven. In the piano, sweet cascades of blue-orange chords, enclosing in their distant chimes the almost plainchant song of the violin and cello.
• Abîme des oiseaux
(III. "Abyss of birds", for solo clarinet.)
The abyss is Time with its sadness, its weariness. The birds are the opposite to Time; they are our desire for light, for stars, for rainbows, and for jubilant songs.
A test for even the most accomplished clarinetist, with an extremely slow tempo marking quaver (eighth note) = 44.
(IV. "Interlude", for violin, cello, and clarinet.)
Scherzo, of a more individual character than the other movements, but linked to them nevertheless by certain melodic recollections.