Messiaen Review: The Courier-Mail

Noble brings Messiaen’s work to life.
Vingt Regard sur l’enfant Jesus (Messiaen),

Colin Noble, piano. St John’s Cathedral Brisbane. Reviewed by Patricia Kelly. Brisbane Courier-Mail.

With a torrential downpour sounding its own symphony on St John’s Cathedral roof on Saturday night, one of Brisbane's most significant performances of the year took place.

Pianist Colin Noble played the Vingt Regard sur l’Enfant Jesus. The audience was small. It was not a night for venturing out yet it was strangely fitting that this work from one of our century’s outstanding composers should share the moment with the saving rain returning life to drought stricken land.

It was food for contemplation. That is how Noble presented the 20 images of the work – nearly 3 hours including breaks...

In Vingt Regards pianism is definitely subservient to the music. Technical and interpretive skill is vital but pales under the contemplative dominance of the imagery. Careful to project the music, Noble did not engage in distracting display.

It was a landmark performance (possibly the first complete presentation in Brisbane). Noble’s response to the varying shades of Messiaen’s musical theology became a splendid combination of sensitivity and reverence, of power and tenderness, dark discord and sparkles of light.