Akoka: Reframing Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time

Akoka: Reframing Olivier Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time

Akoka: Reframing Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time

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“A shatteringly beautiful performance of Olivier Messiaen’s ‘Quartet for the End of Time.'”

-The Jewish Week

In this reframing of Olivier Messiaen’s masterpiece Quartet for the End of Time, clarinetist David Krakauer — praised internationally for his ability to play in a myriad of music genres with “prodigious chops” (The New Yorker) and “soulfulness and electrifying showiness” (The New York Times) — and musical pioneer cellist Matt Haimovitz — described as “one of the leading cellists of his generation” (The New York Times) and “intensely sensitive and perfectly poised (Gramophone Magazine) — have created a recording and live concert experience of great emotional power.

In a rare live recording, AKOKA bookmarks the complete Messiaen masterwork Quartet for the End of Time between Krakauer’s own Akoka, and Meanwhile… by sound artist Socalled.
The album lifts Messiaen’s original work out of the polite context of a chamber music performance and places it in a dramatic setting that drives home its gravity and impact, while bringing it into the 21st century. As the forces of fundamentalism, intolerance and violence intensify in today’s world, this particular mounting of the great work seems all the more timely.

From the liner notes by Rebecca Rischin, author of For the End of Time: The Story of the Messiaen Quartet:

Akoka was inspired by the wartime experience of clarinetist Henri Akoka, who premiered the Quartet for the End of Time with Olivier Messiaen in Stalag VIII A, the German prisoner-of-war camp in which they were both interred.

Henri Akoka’s vibrant personality and the story of his survival, with all its twists and turns, is the inspiration for this recording, which, in cellist Matt Haimovitz’s words, “brings out the human aspect of this composition seen through the ‘eyes’ of one individual caught up in terrifying events beyond his control…

The album positions the Quartet between two original compositions inspired by Messiaen’s famous work: the opening track, “Akoka,” conceived by the Klezmer and classical clarinetist David Krakauer, is almost entirely improvised; and the closing track, “Meanwhile…” by the “beat architect” (pianist, composer, arranger, singer, rapper, and more) Socalled (a.k.a. Josh Dolgin), merges live samples of the musicians with old radio broadcasts, hiphop, cantorial singing, and markers of time…

Tracks

1 David Krakauer: Akoka David Krakauer, clarinet; Matt Haimovitz, cello; Jonathan Crow, violin; Geoffrey Burleson, piano
2 Olivier Messiaen: Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps – I. Liturgie de cristal David Krakauer, clarinet; Matt Haimovitz, cello; Jonathan Crow, violin; Geoffrey Burleson, piano
3 Olivier Messiaen: Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps – II. Vocalise, pour l’Ange qui annonce la fin du Temps David Krakauer, clarinet; Matt Haimovitz, cello; Jonathan Crow, violin; Geoffrey Burleson, piano
4 Olivier Messiaen: Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps – III. Abîme des oiseaux David Krakauer, clarinet
5 Olivier Messiaen: Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps – IV. Intermède David Krakauer, clarinet; Matt Haimovitz, cello; Jonathan Crow, violin
6 Olivier Messiaen: Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps – V. Louange à l’ Éternité de Jésus Matt Haimovitz, cello; Geoffrey Burleson, piano
7 Olivier Messiaen: Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps – VI. Danse de la fureur, pour les sept trompettes David Krakauer, clarinet; Matt Haimovitz, cello; Jonathan Crow, violin; Geoffrey Burleson, piano
8 Olivier Messiaen: Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps – VII. Fouillis d’ arcs-en-ciel, pour l’ Ange qui annonce la fin du Temps David Krakauer, clarinet; Matt Haimovitz, cello; Jonathan Crow, violin; Geoffrey Burleson, piano
9 Olivier Messiaen: Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps – VIII. Louange à l’ Immortalité de Jésus Jonathan Crow, violin; Geoffrey Burleson, piano
10 Socalled: Meanwhile… Socalled, electronics; David Krakauer, clarinet; Matt Haimovitz, cello; Jonathan Crow, violin; Geoffrey Burleson, piano

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