Messiaen would have been proud of these young musicians performing the first concert in the international Messiaen Centenary Conference, attended by world-wide scholars. Music from this 21year old already had his distinctive character.
Very rare fare for students, these challenging scores were delivered with confidence and admirable accuracy.
Explicit religious messages derived from plainsong were introduced in Les Offrandes Oubliées: layers of seamless unison strings flowed, exploring the haunting mesmerising genre.
Crystal clear direction from the rostrum highlighted clear rhythm. Lionel Friend is obviously at one with this intricate music - for instance, totally reliable when encouraging explosive Sin from the tight-knit percussion team.
Inspired in Japan, the Sept Haïkaï seen through Messaien's imagination are intriguing, from the cacophony of birdsong - a favourite subject - to a not-so-calm boat trip in a beautiful landscape.
Colin Scott's superbly explosive, repetitive piano cadenzas led to strident trumpet and piccolo which admirably mirrored ancient Japanese Court music.
A calm breather with Debussy's evocative Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune was pure delight; thank you to the principal flute - then back to the compulsive fascination of Messiaen. A sublimely mature performance of L'Ascension highlighted well focused woodwinds, with particularly warm, lugubrious cor anglais.
Brighter cymbals would have been preferable with trumpet blasts, but otherwise a well balanced, moving interpretation of an idiosyncratic composition.
Oiseaux Exotiques with star pianist Rebeca Omordia, brought to life Messiaen's obsession with birdsong. Her enthusiasm and peerless technique added to eleven wind and seven percussionists to portray another world - xylophone, marimba etc. - nicknamed "birdseed", added to which gongs, and pecking wood blocks created an exotic jungle, bringing to a close a wonderful concert. Bravo!