What are we to make of an aria that begins: “what do you think of predestination?” This is not art, it is not even theology dressed up as art. It is plain old propaganda, no different from the choral version of the Communist Manifesto I once endured among the hardline Czechs.
The longer St Francis went on, and on, and on, the more I realised that Messiaen is the one great composer in the whole of western music whom I actively dislike.
This is, I assure you, a unique situation. The Catholic symmetries of Bruckner’s symphonies leave me open-mouthed in wonder. I can cope with anti-Semitism in Bach and Wagner. I listen without prejudice to music by misogynists, racialists, one wife-murderer and at least two paedophiles. But with Messiaen, for all his ingenuity, my gorge rises and my tolerance fails.
Now tell us how you really feel, Uncle Normy!