Vinyl Rediscovery: Proustian Recollections: Music as Time Machine

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This means some delicious, holographic Proustian moments. A time machine propelled by music and memories.    By the way, this year marks the 100th anniversary of Proust’s masterpiece, Swann’s Way, in which the famous madeleine-in-the-tea mnemonic episode occurred.

One of those happened last night.  I pulled out a two lp set, Philippe Lefebvre playing Duruflé’s organ works on the immense Chartres cathedral pipe organ.  Suddenly I was in Notre Dame cathedral, at the free Sunday concert, 4:45 p.m., with Pierre Cochereau performing.  I was a student at the Sorbonne, and then, like now, was a melomane, a big music lover.   I was overwhelmed by the power and beauty of the organ sound, this preposterously complex mechanical instrument, as well as just feeling the history and vibrations inside this 14th century church. All those immutable, timeless stones, cut by the sweat of thousands of stonemasons over centuries, witnesses of time.

The organ music featured in these free shows was quite modern, but not incongruent with the ancient and hallowed setting.    All the humanity, all the lives that have come in an out of this great Gothic cathedral that goes all the way back to the Black Death that ravaged Europe in the middle ages.  I wept, overcome by it all.    When the free show was over, little old ladies, dressed in black, came for the 5:45 service.  Most of the rest of us, myself included, left.

This all came back as listened to the Chartre recording of Duruflé organ works.  I love his Requiem as well.  Its strange and wonderful to be transported back in time.

Let your ears behold the mighty and lofty sound of the pipe organ at Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris.