In the Middle Ages, the title ‘Miroir’ designated works that reflected the traditional sciences – the science of love, the philosophical, the mystical, all indeed that is archetypal in our lives. Jean Biès is predominantly a poet, but also a perennial philosopher in the next generation on from Guènon and Schuon. I was drawn to the wonderfully rich tapestry that Biès’s poetry embraces, from the mystical to the erotic, to the child-like and the playful, and to the immense profundity of his thinking. I have set twenty-two of his poems for double choir, two string quartets and double bass.
A playful Petite ouverture ‘draws back the curtains’ on each sequence of the music as it moves in and out of different emotional worlds. India has always been seen by Biès as symbolic of a sacredness that has deserted the West, so this Petite ouverture is based on Indian Ragas, and should be sung in Indian style.
The cycle itself begins and ends with Promenade, ‘a walk’ in spring with all that ‘spring’ and ‘walking’ symbolise. After the first Promenade, we proceed into the world of erotic love, and then by way of an instrumental Interlude into a section with haiku-like miniatures. Then, following Interlude II, we reach the metaphysical and mystical centre of the piece with Androcosme, Mise en croix, and a setting of the extraordinary poem Tu ne sais pas. A third Interlude takes us back through further miniatures and Interlude IV into the erotic landscape of the beginning. Thus Miroir des poèmes is a structure, and also an inner mirror of the human condition, but seen always as a sacred mirror. For Biès, as for myself, all is sacred.
Ideally the music should be performed in a church or other building with a generous acoustic.