Barbara Hannigan and the London Symphony Orchestra perform blissed-out visions of heaven from Mahler and Messiaen at Bath Forum.
Olivier Messiaen sends up a prayer, and the skies themselves seem to ring with majestic, multicoloured sounds. Incorporating complex rhythms, harmony and melodies, Messiaen (1908-1992) is known for his unique composition style. His spiritually uplifting L’Ascension, which depicts the ascension of Christ into Heaven after the Resurrection, is no exception. It was originally composed for orchestra in 1932-33 with Messiaen describing its four brief movements as “meditations for orchestra.”
For his 4th Symphony, Mahler gets inside the mind of a child, with a wild ride through blue skies, jangling sleigh bells and sudden, rapturous visions. A work exploring themes of childhood, innocence and spirituality, Mahler chooses to end his symphony with a song for solo voice and orchestra; a poem presenting a child’s vision of heaven, sung at this concert by the extraordinary Barbara Hannigan.
As a singer, there’s nothing Barbara Hannigan can’t do, and as a conductor she drives straight to the places that other musicians wouldn’t dare. She’s been called ‘an artist who shoots straight for the heart and never misses’, and here the LSO’s Artistic Associate stars as both conductor and vocalist in a concert charged with wonder.