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5 Sep
Melbourne Recital Centre

Event Description

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Kristian Chong & Friends – Quartet for the End of Time

‘If ever there was a piece of chamber music that could be described as a masterpiece in its composer’s lifetime, this is it.’ – Gramophone

Acclaimed pianist Kristian Chong, along with friends and colleagues, returns to the Primrose Potter Salon for a performance of a must-hear piece of musical storytelling.

With its eight movements, each telling a unique yet connected story, Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time is often considered the composer’s magnum opus… and for good reason! Written in the most emotionally demanding of circumstances – while Messiaen was a prisoner-of-war during World War II – the unusual instrumentation was not by design. Rather, in response to the instruments on hand among the camp’s musician inmates: violin, cello, clarinet, and piano.

Throughout his life, Messiaen was fascinated with birdsong, and he regularly included similar melodies in his compositions. Once quoted as saying ‘I doubt that one can find in any human music, however inspired, melodies and rhythms that have the sovereign freedom of bird song’, Messiaen prefaces each of the movements in Quartet for the End of Time with references to blackbirds and nightingales.

In his third movement, Abîme des oiseaux (Abyss of the Birds), Messiaen wrote ‘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.’ This tension between sadness and joy, happiness and sorrow results in an eight-minute tour-de-force for solo clarinet joining spirituality and nature in what is often considered one of the most challenging solos ever written.

Caring for Our Community

Melbourne Recital Centre is committed to the safety of our artists, staff and patrons. A range of public health, hygiene and physical distancing measures are currently in place. Click here to learn more.

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