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Composed in 1944 and first performed at the Salle Gaveau in Paris on 26 March 1945 by Yvonne Loriod, this is the second great pianistic cycle by Olivier Messiaen: a major work indeed, not only in the composer’s oeuvre but in the entire repertoire for solo piano. As we know, its origin is in the faith and spirituality of Olivier Messiaen, who described it as: ‘The Contemplation of the Child-God in the cradle, and the gazes fixed upon Him: from the inexpressible Gaze of God the Father to the multiple Gaze of the Church of love, also taking in the unheard Gaze of the Spirit of joy, the tender Gaze of the Virgin, of the Angels, of the Magi, and of those creatures that are immaterial or symbolic (Time, Extreme Height, Silence, the Star, the Cross).’ He continues: ‘It is a complex of sounds destined for perpetual variations, pre-existing in the abstract as a series, but very concrete and easy to recognize by their colours: a steely grey-blue traversed by bright red and orange, a mauve-tinted violet spotted with leather-brown and encircled in deep purple.’ The vision of this work transmitted by Martin Helmchen – a great piano virtuoso who is himself marked by a strong sense of spirituality – is another substantial contribution to the Messiaenic monument.