Visions De L'Amen/ En Blanc (Naxos: 8.572472)
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Both the works on this recording were written during wartime. Debussy's 1915 En blanc et noir, composed during a late creative burst, is his musical response to the horrors of World War I. Messiaen's revolutionary Visions de l'Amen from 1943, written to be performed by the composer and his teenage pupil, Yvonne Loriod, is a profound religious meditation whose emotional intensity is overwhelming. The role of the two pianos is clearly divided. Melodic and expressive elements are confined to the second piano, Messiaen's part, whereas all that is percussion, brilliance and rhythmic development is heard in the first piano, Loriod's part.
Dutch pianist and musicologist Ralph van Raat has won, among other awards, Second Prize and Donemus-Prize (for Contemporary Music) of the Princess Christina Competition (1995); Stipend-Prize Darmstadt during the Internationale Ferienkurse fur Neue Musik in Darmstadt (1998); and First Prize of the International Gaudeamus Interpreters Competition (1999). Of Norwegian origin, Hakon Austbo was the first non-French artist to win the Concours National de la Guilde Francaise des Artistes Solistes in Paris (1970), and in 1971 he gained international attention when a unanimous jury awarded him the first prize of the Olivier Messiaen Competition for Contemporary Music in Royan, France.