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Jean-Pierre Alarcen (France) - 1978, 1979 - "Tableau No 1"
(73 min, "Musea")

Tableau No 1:
1. First Movement 15:42 
2. Second Movement 5:29
3. Third Movement 20:34
Debut album:
4. Sambala 6:36
5. Salut Besson 3:58
6. Mon Amour 3:42
7. Nationale 7:14
8. Soir 5:13
9. Vieux Garcon 4:28

All music: by Jean-Pierre Alarcen.


Jean-Pierre Alarcen - electric & acoustic guitars,
Daniel Goyone - keyboards
Gerard Cohen - bass guitar
Jean-Lou Besson - drums & percussion
Serge Millerat - percussion
Philippe Leroux - drums & percussion (on track 1 to 3)
Claude Arini - keyboards & orchestral direction (1 to 3)
Jean-Paul Asselini - keyboards (on 2 & 3)
Francis Lockwood - keyboards (on 6)
Michel Zacha - voice (on 5)
Alain Rivet - voice (on 5)

Produced by Scoppuzle, Sibecar & Gilles Bleiveis. 
Recorded & mixed
by Dominique Blanc-Francard,
Patrick Clerk, & Alain Aubert
at "Family Sound" & "Davout" studios,
Paris, France, in 1978 & 1979.

Prologue. This CD includes both of the first two albums by the established French musician and composer Jean-Pierre Alarcen. For some reason, three tracks that are featured on Alarcen's second album "Tableau No 1" are located on the CD before those from his eponymous debut album.

The Album. The "Tableau No 1" album could've been subtitled "Concerto For a Group And Orchestra". All the three Movements that are featured on it represent nothing else but the works of Classical Academic Music. The arrangements develop constantly and there is no place for repeats. The First and Third Movements, both of which are as long as any LP's typical sidelong pieces, consist of varied structures. The alternation of the fast, powerful and hard-edged, slow, soft and quiet arrangements is typical for both of them. The arrangements of Second Movement are almost entirely slow. It contains only one powerful episode, which lasts about 50 seconds. The guitar solos are very tasteful and diverse throughout the album. However, those of them that are featured in the fast arrangements are just incredibly virtuosi. The slow arrangements consist for the most part of interplay between the 'crying' solos of guitar and 'sad' passages of string orchestra, while the fast ones feature the performance of the band as a whole. Of course, the latter are especially impressive. In fact, they represent a hard-edged Classic Symphonic Art-Rock raised to the power of Classical Academic Music. The contrasting interplay between solos and riffs of electric guitar, solos of bass guitar, organ, and electric piano, and passages of acoustic piano, Church organ, and string ensemble, frequent and unexpected changes of tempo and mood, atonalities, complex time signatures, etc. All of this is typical for both the longest compositions on the album. With the exception of orchestral cymbals, the drums are active only in the mid-tempo and fast arrangements. It also must be said that for the most part, all three of the Movements of Tableau No 1 have a dramatic feel to them, which is especially evident in the slow and mid-tempo arrangements. All the fast arrangements are penetrated with atmospheres of intensity and anxiety. Frankly, I find this music very appropriate for the planet Earth. By the way, two compositions from Alarcen's debut album sound like they were composed exclusively for "Tableau No 1". These are Mon Amour and Vieux Garcon (6 & 9). The arrangements of both of them consist of diverse interplay between passages of various violins and violoncellos with a dramatic feel to them. All four of the remaining tracks are structurally in many ways similar among themselves. The presence of essential progressive ingredients along with flavors of Latin-American music is what unites all the following pieces: Salut Besson, Nationale, Sambala, and Soir (tracks 5, 7, 4, & 8 respectively). The differences between these pieces lie in the details of performance. The first two of these pieces entirely consist of arrangements that are typical for Classic Symphonic Art-Rock. Sambala and Soir contain approximately the equal number of truly symphonic arrangements and those that are based on the composed improvisations. And these are the features of Classic Symphonic Jazz-Fusion.

Summary. Everything that is featured on this CD is just wonderful. Also, all this progressive brilliance is based on a distinct originality and uniqueness. Doubtless, each of the first two albums by Jean-Pierre Alarcen is one of the best solo albums that have ever been created in the history of Progressive. What can I add here, apart from my highest recommendations?

VM. May 13, 2002

Related Links:

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