A video tribute to Olivier Messiaen, released in honor of the composer’s 111th birthday anniversary on December 10, 2019.
Olivier Messiaen: Theme and Variations for Violin and Piano
Alexi Kenney, violin
Victor Asuncion, piano
Recorded in Guarneri Hall during the 2019 NEXUS Summer Chamber Music Festival
Executive producer: Stefan Hersh
Videographer: Mike Grittani, Grittani Creative
Sound engineer: Christopher Willis
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About the piece and his experience recording it, Alexi Kenney writes:
The mysticism of Messiaen’s music has always intrigued me, and particularly in the Theme et Variations, it’s the fantastical world he creates from the very first chord that lets you know you’re about to hear something magical. At Messiaen’s (very slow!) original tempo markings, the piece is much more of an intense slow burn rather than a virtuosic showpiece, which is how it’s sometimes played. It’s this weird and disturbing constant buildup that I find so compelling about the piece, and I hope that comes across in our performance. Working with Victor was a dream; he played the extremely challenging piano part with panache and deep insight. Recording in Guarneri Hall was unusually great. It’s rare to find a space for performances and recordings that have it all: warm and excellent acoustics, extremely high-quality equipment, and lovely and professional staff.