Ah, winter, when a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of spring! It's been snowing all night and shows no signs of stopping, the sidewalks covered in such a thick layer of the stuff that pedestrians have given up and are walking along the road. As I walked back from church this morning I noticed that the fresh snowfall had totally covered the footprints I made three hours earlier. I don't approve, and after crashing clumsily through my front door I put on Daphnis and Chloe and pretend it's June.
Unsurprisingly, today was the lowest attendance at church I've seen in a very long time, so only the select few got to enjoy the lineup of all twentieth-century music I had planned for this Sunday: Lennox Berkeley, Kenneth Leighton, Messiaen, and Carter. I suppose it hurts my modernist credentials a bit that the Carter piece was an organ voluntary by the thoroughly tonal Andrew Carter, not Elliott Carter, but Elliott hasn't written anything suitable for church performance. (Incidentally: a belated happy birthday to Olivier Messiaen and to Elliott Carter - born on Dec. 10 and 11 of 1908, respectively.)
By the way, the Wikipedia article on Messiaen just keeps getting better and better. Despite my general distaste for all things Wikipedian, this is not a bad place to start if you're looking for information on the composer. Also worth a look are the numerous seasonally appropriate Messiaen-related videos on YouTube:
An excerpt from Turangalila played by the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain with Andrew Davis and Pierre Laurent Aimard. The jump cuts between different orchestral instruments are unintentionally hilarious, but the performance is actually quite good. (This is actually not seasonally appropriate in the slightest, but I enjoy it too much not to post it.)
Les Bergers from La Nativite du Seigneur, as performed by Marie-Claire Alain.
Dieu parmi nous from La Nativite du Seigneur, as performed by Naji Hakim. Terrible video quality; good performance. Am impressed by the number of markings on Hakim's score.
Messiaen about to start an improvisation
. . . and the actual improvisation.