As a suitable meditation for today, I offer Messiaen’s beautiful Les Offrandes Oubliées:
Messiaen wrote the following note about the piece:
The Offrandes Oubliées, written in 1930, was first performed on February 19, 1931, at the Théatre des Champs Elysées in Paris, under the direction of Walter Straram. I had just turned 22. It was my first work played by an orchestra and my first contact with the public at large.
The work is in three parts:
- The Cross: lamentation of the strings, the sorrowful ‘neumes’ of which divide the melody into groups of uneven duration, cut by long mauve and grey wailings.
- The Sin: presented here as a kind of ‘race to the abyss’ in an almost ‘mechanized’ speed. You will notice the strong flexional ending accents, whistling of the harmonics in glissando, the incisive calls of the trumpets.
- The Eucharist: long and slow phrase of the violins, which rises over a blanket of pianissimo chords, with reds, gold, blues (like a faraway stained glass window), in the light of muted solo chords. The sin is the forgetting of God. The Cross and the Eucharist are the Divine Offerings. ‘This is my Body, given for you – this is my Blood, spilled for you.’
To those who will be observing it, I wish you a good, difficult, and fruitful Lent.