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Marcel PÉRÈS (b. 1956)
Contemplation - The Ancient Egyptians’ ‘Book of the Dead’ (1978)
L'aube de la Nuit; Les lueurs de la Paix [Part 1]; Les lueurs de la Paix [Part 2]; Les lueurs de la Paix [Part 3]; Héliopolis; Le Gouvernail de l'Orient; Le Faucon d'Or; Le passage; L'Ancien des jours
Marcel Pérès (organ)
rec. January 2007, l’Eglise St François, Lausanne, Suisse. DDD
Experience Classicsonline

There is a natural fascination with the distant past. That magnetic pull is potentially all the stronger when expressed in music. I first explored this in music with a review of a luxurious designed CD of ancient Egyptian harp material. There too, as here, the element of speculation was well to the fore. The collection was by Rafael Pérez Arroyo and was captured on the Natural Acoustic Recordings label on NAR-0010-01 by the Hathor Ensemble. 

In Marcel Pérès's Contemplations the composer meditates across nine movements on a collection of ancient Egyptian texts known as The Book of the Dead. The texts - which are printed in French and English translation - reflect the 'transformation of consciousness' that occurs after physical death. The style is reflective - tonal yet with the sort of piercing harmonic crunches one encounters in the music of Howells. A sense of slow radiant light suffuses L'aube de la nuit while a darker accent grips Les lueurs de la Paix which is again slow and evolutionary although more assertive in its second section which introduces a Messiaenic harmonic edge. A discreet dissonance adds a Cimmerian otherworldliness to Heliopolis (1:56). A resonating bell seems to sound out in Le Gouvernail de l'Orient. More dissonance returns for angular stabbing figures which criss-cross the music's immanent slow gait in Le Passage. In L'Ancien des jours a subtle apotheosis has been completed and the music, again steadily glowing, harks back to L'aube de la nuit. Now though, the melodic content is a degree more candid - for the first time - a sort of liberation is achieved.

The music is lovingly played by the composer who brings great concentration to the piece. This is not for you if you are looking for a dramatic epic. On the other hand if you seek a sustained meditative experience and are prepared to trust in Pérès and immerse yourself then this is too good to miss.

Rob Barnett



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