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Dawn Chorus

Tom McKinney presents pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard playing Messiaen's Catalogue d'Oiseaux live at the 2016 Aldeburgh Festival. Plus recordings of music inspired by birdsong.

As he starts his journey through Messiaen's "Catalogue d'Oiseaux", pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard will take up the baton from the dawn chorus as the sun rises over the Alde Estuary in Suffolk.

Tom McKinney presents the first of four live broadcasts from the Aldeburgh Festival today, in which Pierre-Laurent Aimard performs Messiaen's set of thirteen piano pieces based on bird calls that he composed in the late 1950s. These three movements: Le Traquet stapazin (black-eared wheatear), La Bouscarle (Cetti's warbler) and Le Traquet rieur (black wheatear) are not simply transciptions of birdsong - they are tone poems for the piano, evoking the landscape, its colours and atmosphere. And what better setting than the marshes behind the concert hall at Snape Maltings in Suffolk.

After the concert ends, at 5.15 am, Tom McKinney continues his exploration of music associated with birds, including recordings of Warlock's The Curlew, Rautavaara's Cantus Arcticus, Sibelius's The Swan of Tuonela and Jonathan Harvey's Bird Concerto with Pianosong.

2 hours, 40 minutes

Last on

Sun 19 Jun 2016 04:20

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Music Played

  • Olivier Messiaen

    Le traquet stapazin

    Performer: Pierre‐Laurent Aimard.
  • Olivier Messiaen

    La bouscarle

    Performer: Pierre‐Laurent Aimard.
  • Olivier Messiaen

    Le traquet rieur

    Performer: Pierre‐Laurent Aimard.
  • Rautavaara

    Cantus Arcticus

    Conductor: Leif Segerstam. Orchestra: Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra.
  • Jean Sibelius

    The Swan of Tuonela

    Conductor: Neeme Järvi. Orchestra: Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.
  • Frederick Delius

    Late Swallows

    Music Arranger: Eric Fenby. Orchestra: Hallé. Conductor: John Barbirolli.
  • Granados

    Quejas a la maja y el ruisenor (Goyescas Book II)

    Performer: Alicia de Larrocha.
  • Jonathan Harvey

    Bird Concerto with Piano Song

    Performer: Hidéki Nagano. Conductor: David Atherton.
  • Peter Warlock

    The Curlew

    Performer: Ian Partridge. Ensemble: Music Group of London.


  • Sun 19 Jun 2016 04:20

Up with the lark

Up with the lark

Pictured: Pierre-Laurent Aimard's all-day Messiaen marathon at the Aldeburgh Festival.

The composer who took a cue from birdsong

The composer who took a cue from birdsong

Exploring Messiaen's life-long creative obsession with birdsong.

Birdsong mixtape

Birdsong mixtape

The best of British birdsong with music inspired by the natural world.