My plan was as follows. To begin with, I would play the first, second and fourth movement of Livre du Saint Sacrement "as usual", i.e. as if the audience would be classical. Then I would insert an improvisation on my composition Birds, drums and signals. After that, Messiaen's seventh movement as usual, but immediately followed by an improvisation on Listening to the fairies, in stead of the habitual long pause. This improvisation would lead to the closing section of the ninth movement, leaving out not only the eighth but a also the larger part of the ninth.This would be the critical moment: I felt that I could not just insert my improvisation and pick up Messiaen' score again as if nothing had happened. There had to be a moment of magic there, the result of a subtle crossfade between the score and my improvisation. The recital would continue with a "regular" tenth and twelfth movement (the latter ending with the only "romantic" passage of the recital, so soft and sweet that the audience would surrender to that). The thirteenth movement also as usual, a terrific representation of the story of the walls of water in the Old Testament, with an archaic power that would be recognized. On the other hand, the fifteenth movement with the transparent bird songs mentioned above should be complete open; I might change Messiaen's notes or order of phrases or even invent something new on the spot, if the circumstances would require that kind of flexibility. The performance should end with Messiaen's formidable eighteenth movement, again as usual, with a force that can hardly be rivaled.
I did not inform Rumor about my plan and on purpose also not practised the switches between Messiaen and my own music on beforehand; I wanted the improvisations to be as spontaneous as possible. Before the concert, from above near the organ, I watched the audience coming in and got an idea of what kind of music they might prefer; indeed very different from the usual audience in churches. In situations like that, I like to think of magnetic fields of communication, with senders and receivers to transmit. To complete this picture: it was clear that my antenna should remain active during the concert, receive valuable information from the audience and let that affect the performance. Fortunately, a recording was made by Jos van der Linden, the devoted organ fan who also recorded my performance of Messiaen's complete organ works in Haarlem in 1994, issued on CD in 1998 and 2007 respectively. This recording (audio only) can be listened to on YouTube:
The following program with a timetable of the recording may help the reader to understand the above.
1. Messiaen movement one: Adoro te 0'00" - 3'55"
2. Messiaen movement two: La Source de Vie 4'01" - 6'54"
3. Messiaen movement three: Le Dieu caché 7'00'' - 9'26"
4. Tanke improvisation on Birds, drums and signals 9'35" - 11'04"
5. Messiaen movement seven: Les ressuscités et la lumière de vie 11'17" - 15'39"
6. Tanke improvisation on Listening to the fairies 15'48" - 18'13"
7.CROSSFADE MESSIAEN END OF NINTH MOVEMENT (LES TENÈBRES) AND TANKE (IMPROVISATION ON LISTENING TO THE FAIRIES): 18'14" - 20'14"
8. Messiaen movement ten: La Résurrection du Christ 20'22" - 26'03"
9. Messiaen movement twelve: La Transsubstantiation 26'21" - 33'40"
10. Messiaen movement thirteen: Les deux murailles d'eau 33'48" - 41'28"
11. Messiaen movement fifteen: La joie de la grâce 41'35" - 46'52"
12. Messiaen movement eighteen: Offrande et Alleluia final 47'00" - 55'10"
Relistening to the recording, two and a half years after the performance, I think the experiment succeeded for, let's say, eighty percent. The improvisation on Birds, drums and signals comes at the right moment and lightens the atmosphere whereas in the original score Messiaen begins a new chapter of seriousness that might just be too much in the context concerned. The critical crossfade at number 7 is well-done (therefore I wrote it in capitals). Messiaen's use of the reed with tremolo in the lowest register evokes the darkness after the crucifixion of Jesus, which the larger part of the audience may not have felt in a Christian context at all, but more in terms of a gothic horror. It meets the innocent, even joyful sounds of my fairies, which then calm down, to end with Messiaen's low cluster, as a voice from the earth, which I intensified to the maximum to deepen the effect. However, I am not quite satisfied about number 11: a next time I would probably interpolate Messiaen's bird songs with material from my former improvisations or even something completely new. As a result the switches/cross-fades between Messiaen's and my own music might be better balanced regarding the construction of the concert as a whole. To judge my criticism, the reader would have to listen to the recording from beginning till end and without interruption.
A few days after the concert, which was very well received, I had to smile while reading a review which referred to "Messiaen's pop beats". Evidently, the author had mistaken my music as a part of the score!