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CD Feature/ Abbaye de Solesmes: "Paques"

img  Tobias

The entire first track of this double album is dedicated to the bells of Solesmes. For a majestic four minutes, their metal resonates with the wisdom of ages, sending their crystal clear message: Mass has begun. For over a thousand years, they have sounded, with only short intervalls of silence, due to war or oppression. When the last tone has subsided, there is a moment of complete silence. Then the chanting commences.

Gregorian chorales date back to the first days of musical expression, innitiated one of the biggest changes of musical history by introducing notation and have displayed a monumental resilience to times and trends. In a very concrete way, they have always been around, but it has never been harder to write about them – our ears clogged up by the cross-over between their purity and cheap preset-sounds, our minds obliviated by the marketing machinery of “the mystery of silence”. The monks of the monastery of Solesmes are probably best suited to bringing back the essence of these songs – after all, it was them whom we have to thank the renewed interest in these intensly beautiful pieces, long before Enigma entered the charts.  Somehow, their efforts have remained a fact for the faithful, with german movie “The big Silence” stealing the show from their very own DVD and the Spanish colleagues of “Benedictino de Santo Domingo de Silos” selling millions of their albums thanks to a cleaver campaign by EMI. But what does it matter in the face of this collection of 14 CDs, thematically organised and packaged in the most incredible way: Heavy card board digipacks with atmospheric colour pictures of the monastery’s gardens, churches and corridors as well as extensive liner notes to each and every chant. “Paques” is the ideal package for those, who want to spend Easter in a special and intimate way and who don’t necessarily need the easter bunny and painted eggs for things to be cheerful. In the voices of these singers, there is less display of mystery than usual, less allusion and mere hinting. They interpret the chants with an infinitely friendly air, with compassion and the kind of conviction you can probably only obtain after a life dedicated solely to the godly. The ambiance is not one of cryptical darkness, but one of good spirits and lightness. These are celebratory songs, and you can hear it.

You have to be real quiet to enjoy listening to these works and they won’t enter your mind easily. No instant karma on this occasion. But there’s enough wonderful melodies as to not make this a painful pilgrimage. If you’ve had enough of chocolate and a big brunch, and if you’re looking for something genuine and yet positive, then this is the album for you.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Monastery of Solesmes
Homepage: Note-1 Distribution

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