HÅKON AUSTBØ // OLIVIER MESSIAENS - VINGT REGARDS SUR L'ENFANT-JÉSUS
Olivier Messiaen's piano piece Vingt Regards sur l'enfant-Jésus (1944) is a concentrate of the composer's tonal language. Not least, the composer inscribes God, eternity and his entire Catholic world of life in the "Twenty glances", well worth noting in a way that means that anyone who is inclined to contemplate silence and life's big questions can find a fascinating world of sounds in his music.
The very finest recording we have is with Norwegian Håkon Austbø (1994). Through active listening to this, the author lays out Messiaen's tonal language so that everyone, even those without music theory training, can understand and hear the principles on which the music rests. The book follows the work's movements in order and deals with the techniques, expressions and symbolism that Messiaen uses.
The book will also describe details and features in Austbø's interpretation of the music. This gives rise to a dialogue between theory and sound, where the author shows how an interpreter like Austbø draws Messiaen's structures and why the interpretation is so successful despite the fact that it sometimes sounds difficult and demanding. At other times, Austbø becomes so radically analytically innovative that he generally presents new ways of understanding Messiaen as a composer and in particular one of the 20th century's greatest and most important piano works: Vingt Regards sur l'enfant-Jésus.
The author also had a conversation with Austbø about his studies with Messiaen, and this dialogue is woven into the text. Magnus Andersson is a music critic in Klassekampen (2014-) and before this he wrote for Morgenbladet for 10 years. He has previously worked as a postdoctoral researcher and research leader at the Norwegian Academy of Music (NMH) with research areas such as interpretation, Artistic Research and John Cage. Andersson has presented his own research on Messiaen interpretation at international conferences. As leader, he organized a major Messiaen festival at NMH and facilitated Håkon Austbø's research project to visually represent Messiaen's synesthetic understanding of color (the composer saw certain colors for certain timbres). Andersson was also a key driver of Austbø's application for what became "The Thinking Musician", a three-year project involving a number of artists and theorists.
Andersson started his career as a performing artist and majored in pianist from the Norwegian Academy of Music. His texts have been nominated four times for Criticism of the Year, which is a collaboration between the Norwegian Critics Association, Festspillene i Bergen and the Norwegian Theater and Orchestra Association.