Even when the cello moves into its high register, the sound seems to emanate from a deep, russet realm. That quality comes through sublimely in the fifth movement of Messiaen’s mystical “Quartet for the End of Time.”
The composer indicates that this “Praise to the Eternity of Jesus” should be played “infinitely slow, ecstatic.” Aren’t those words opposites? Not to Messiaen. The cello line is restrained, wistful, seemingly never-ending, but the cellist Fred Sherry brings just enough throbbing intensity to suggest spiritual ecstasy. The piano supports with a series of steady, spare, low chords, played by Peter Serkin with glowing richness and eerie calm.
-Anthony Tommasini, NY Times chief classical music critic