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Music for Our Time


The Cape Chamber Music Collective presents one of the most important chamber works of the 20th century – Olivier Messiaen’s ‘Quartet for the End of Time’ at the Franschhoek Dutch Reformed Church on Thursday 23 June at 19h00. Entrance is R140 per person and includes a glass of wine.

To complement this iconic work, the CCMC commissioned Grant McLachlan, Cape Town based composer of several scores for film and TV, to write a work which would converse with the Messiaen, and thus the Quartet for the Beginning of Time came in to being.

The programme opens with Grant McLachlan’s arrangement of an Intermezzo by Brahms, based on one of Brahms’s Six Pieces for Piano Opus 118 from 1893. It is described as Brahms’s love letter to Clara Schumann, wife of his friend and fellow composer, Robert Schumann.

About ‘Music for the beginning of time: Passacaglia’ the composer, Grant McLachlan, writes the following: ‘The passacaglia traditionally comprises a sequence of chords or a bass melody which is repeated in a cyclical pattern. In this work I have used a harmonic sequence as a basis for a set of variations. The opening statement is pared down to the minimum with several of the harmonies missing. Each variation reveals more of the sequence. I have also paid tribute to Messiaen in one of the variations, using some of the compositional devices he invented.’

The programme concludes with Messiaen’s monumental eight-movement ‘Quatuor pour la fin du temps’, written during World War II while he was imprisoned at Stalag VIII-A, a German prisoner-of-war camp in Poland. The composition was specific for a group of musicians which he had available in the camp: clarinet, cello, violin and piano.

Messiaen was a devout Catholic and he wrote in the preface to the score that the work was inspired by the Book of Revelation, the apocalyptic final section of the New Testament in the Bible, and specifically the passage: ‘But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished.’ The quartet’s fury unfolds in whirling rhythms, but alongside them, a vision of eternity sings beautifully in passages of ethereal calm.

Seasoned concert performer Jose Dias (piano) is joined by younger generation musicians; David Bester (violin), David Pinoit (cello) and Annelize de Villiers (clarinet).

This programme is the sixth offering by the CCMC this year in a series of concerts in and around Cape Town.

Student tickets available at the door for half of the full price on the day of the performance.

Franschhoek: Thursday 23 June 19:00 at the NG Kerk. Tickets are R140, including a free glass of wine.

All tickets can be booked on Quicket via the CCMC website at www.capechambercollective.com.