COMPOSER: OLIVIER MESSIAEN
LABEL: DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON
THE BOTTOM LINE: A powerful introduction to one of the century's giants.
In an era when artistic discourse has tended to be nasty, brutish and short- winded, Olivier Messiaen's musical grands projects stand apart from -- and largely above -- the works of his more prosaic mid-century contemporaries. Devoutly Catholic, the French composer was blessed with a pagan sense of muscular rhythm and luminous color. Highly intellectual, he was also irredeemably mystical, taking an almost childlike pleasure in the sounds of nature, especially bird song. He followed no "ism" and founded no school,...