December is a big month for music, full of Nutcrackers and musical Masses and spiritual concerts. In the rush it'd be easy to overlook the Ideal (Dis-) Placements concert series at the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts (3716 Washington Boulevard; 314-754-1850 or www.pulitzerarts.org), nestled away as it is on a Wednesday night. But it would also be a shame, as David Robertson has scheduled a performance of Olivier Messiaen's Vingt regards sur l'Enfant-Jésus (Twenty Contemplations of the Infant Jesus) by pianist Molly Morkoski (pictured). Messiaen's interpretation of the Nativity features all of the elements you're familiar with — the star, angels on high, the wise men and, of course, the baby Jesus — but refracted through the chromatic prism of Messiaen's brilliant musical language. The nineteenth movement, I Sleep, but My Heart Keeps Watch, is a marvel of dreamy pacing, as clusters of notes flicker and hang in the air like so much stardust. The ethereal quality of this penultimate movement gives way to the triumphant cascade of Contemplation of the Church of Love, a joyous outburst that sends you home with a renewed spirit. The performance takes place at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $20.
Wed., Dec. 17, 2008