Louange à l'éternité de Jésus is the fifth movement for cello and piano from Olivier Messiaen's Quatuor pour la fin du temps (Quartet for the End of Time), adapted here for cello and organ. It was composed while Messiaen was a prisoner of war in Stalag VIII-A, Görlitz, Germany, and first performed with other detained musicians inside the Nazi camp in January 1941. Inspired by the Book of Revelation, this music invokes the composers vision of "immutable peace", in its infinitely slow, ecstatic pacing and metre, described by the pianist Steven Osborne as “seeming to touch the far edges of human experience, subverting the idea of linear time”. Earlier this year, confronted with a multitude of shared human maladies, the idea for this record took shape as if through a fog. Performed by Lucy Railton on Cello and Andrew Marx on Organ, the recording was made a decade ago and captures an intangible human presence - a cough, a baby crying - oddly contextualising the complex existential dimensions of the music itself.
"10 years ago in spring I performed Messiaen's Louange à l'Éternité de Jésus in a concert at Buckfast Abbey in Devon. It was a normal Saturday concert, a half full audience, some friends and family were also there. It’s hard to explain why some performances stand out but for some reason I still think about that day. It’s not only that this is great music, there was something else we felt, in the heavy silence before the first note, and as the chords rose higher and higher. There was a kind of communal acknowledgement of something bigger than that moment and place, of the immense beauty of music, and of the human capacity for resilience, and transformation.” Lucy Railton, June 2020.