January 15th 1941: The premiere of Messiaen’s most performed work ‘Quatuor pour la fin du Temps’ in the theatre shed of Stelag VIIa, a German work camp near the Polish border. This work ushers in a period of great creativity. It is hard to notice how difficult the period of war was for Messiaen, when one considers his immense artistic output, taking shape in the great cycli for piano ‘Vision de l’Amen’ (1943), ‘Les Vingts Regards sur l’Enfant Jésus’
(1944) and the ‘Turangalili symphony’ (1049). This last piece as well – meant for a large orchestra, an extensive percussion section and Ondes Martenot – centralizes the piano and, as a matter of fact, Yvonne Loriof, his second spouse. During the ‘Quatuor’ premiere, however, the composer himself was seated at the piano, sided by Etienne Pasquier, Henri Akoka and Jean Le Boulaire.
Other works we were to collect, were meant to compensate this, departing however from a large unity. Not only did we mean for these works to symbolize the different nationalities that were part of the conflict of that time, thus being present at the camp, we also aimed to link this given to the most important styles that shaped the 20th century musical landscape in Europe. Finally, we looked for works that would make use of the complete number of possibilities of the formation and that would supplement the combinations Messiaen hadn’t used, again achieving unity in doing so.