On the front page of Messiaen's masterful Quartet for the End of Time he quotes Revelations: "In homage to the Angel of the Apocalypse, who lifts his hand toward heaven, saying, 'There shall be time no longer.'"
Surely, in the midst of that brutally cold winter in 1941, in a German prisoner camp, it would seem time -- or at least civilization -- were coming to an end.
Messiaen befriended three fellow prisoners who played violin, cello and clarinet. With Messiaen on an old, out-of-tune upright piano they premiered his Quartet in an unheated barrack for some 5,000 inmates, the front row filled with German officers.
This "apocalypse" though is gentle, ethereal, transcendent -- filled with promise that a Messiah would come to redeem the world.
This Sunday at MacPhail, the Bakken Trio - Stephanie Arado, Judy Lin and Eugena Chang -- plus clarinetist Tim Zavadil will perform this remarkable work with dance interpretation by Julie Mueller in both Japanese Butoh and German Expressionist styles.