Mare Nostrum (Latin for Our Sea ) was a Roman name for the Mediterranean Sea, one of the most important focal points of cultural, political and intellectual growth and exchange and dialogue in the history of humankind. In this lavishly illustrated CD-book, Jordi Savall and the musicians of Hespèrion XXI invite us to explore the facts, myths and legends of the Mediterranean and the sway it has had over many peoples and cultures from Morocco to Israel, from Spain to Lebanon. Also featured on the recording are soprano Montserrat Figueras and Israeli singer Lior Elmaleh, one of the leading representatives of the new generation of performers of Andalusian music.
The first volume of Orient Occident - released in 2006 - turned out to be a landmark in Jordi Savall's discography. For the first time, the maestro explored an extra-European repertoire, demonstrating the same musicological expertise he had shown with composers like Marin Marais. The album soon became a best seller. The second volume in this exploration focuses on Syria, alternating instrumental and vocal pieces. Musicians from Syria, Lebanon and Israel play alongside Hesperion XXI and illustrate the artistic and humanist process we have come to expect from Jordi Savall.
Catharism was the name given to a Christian religious sect that appeared in the Languedoc region of what is now southern France and flourished in the 12th and 13th centuries. The Cathars saw matter as intrinsically evil. They denied that Jesus could become incarnate and still be the son of God and thus, the Catholic Church regarded the sect as dangerously heretical. Faced with what they saw as a rapidly spreading cancer, the Church called for a crusade, which was carried out by knights from Northern France and Germany and was known as the Albigensian Crusade. This campaign, and the inquisition that followed it, eradicated the Cathars completely. It also had the effect of weakening the semi- independent southern principalities in the area, ultimately bringing them under direct control of the King of France.
Vigorous and colourful medieval dances revealed by Jordi Savall! The Estampie is a medieval dance consisting of four to seven sections, called puncta, each of which is repeated (in the form aa, bb, cc, etc…).The more widely accepted etymology relates it to stamper, to stamp the feet. Illuminations and paintings from the period seem to indicate that the estampie involves fairly vigorous hopping. The earliest reported example of this musical form is the song "Kalenda Maya" (track 3), supposedly written by the troubadour Raimbaut de Vaqueiras (1180-1207) to the melody of an estampida played by French jongleurs. In this irresistible album, Jordi Savall explores a Royal manuscript from the French National Library.
Alfonso Ferrabosco the younger (b. Greenwich, c. 1575; bur. Greenwich, March 11, 1628) was an English composer and viol player of Italian descent. Although he gained access to the royal court as early as 1592, it took him almost 10 years to come to the attention of the queen, but in 1601 he became a member of the royal consort of viols. Ferrabosco marks the true beginning of the English Baroque. When Elizabeth I died in 1603, her successor James IV appointed Ferrabosco as music teacher to Henry, Prince of Wales and Ferrabosco continued to work in the king's service, becoming Composer of the King's Music in 1625, in 1626 succeeding John Coprario in the post of official court musician. The respect shown for him by his contemporaries proves that Ferrabosco was the court musician of his day, borne out by the fact that he was also the most copied.
Lawes's "sets" are actually suites for five or six viols with an organ playing "underneath" them. Each shortish set is broken into even shorter parts: Fantazy, Aire, Paven, etc.–and while the formula remains essentially the same, the textures and harmonies are constantly changing, with dissonances and conversations between and among the various strings giving the works great variety. On these two beautiful CDs (the first devoted to Five parts, the second to Six), Jordi Savall and Hesperion XXI play on a pair of violins, four viols, and organ, offering great contrast and flavor and making us aware of just how energetic and fascinating counterpoint can be. The colors the six (or seven) musicians get from their instruments and the interplay among them is fantastic; the playing is superb. Fans of any type of chamber music will want to hear what this underrecorded composer who died too young (43) added to the genre. It's as if he created a new language, one that seems to have been waiting to be heard. A lovely, thoughtful couple of hours of music-making.
This album is a tribute to Armenia and to the Armenian musicians who have played alongside Jordi Savall and his wife Montserrat Figueras over the past several years. The repertoire, culled from Hesperion XXI's fascinating live programs, ranges from lively to contemplative. All of the unique and powerful music on Armenian Spirit is beautifully played using traditional instruments including the duduk, an ancient double-reed instrument with a deeply moving sound quality. Jordi Savall illuminates this music with a faultless musical flair, driven by his endless curiosity and supreme musicianship. The disc is accompanied by a lavishly documented and richly illustrated booklet.
For the uninitiated, the music on Jordi Savall's new Villancicos y danzas criollas disc is a revelation, gleefully crossing lines between sacred and secular, artistic and popular, and, most strikingly, European, African, and Amerindian. The selections included originated between the early 1500s and the early 1700s, and, unlike those on the Harp Consort's similar Missa Mexicana disc, come from Spain as well as the New World. Indeed, the two recordings together offer a perfect introduction to this fascinating, unfailingly enjoyable and often comic repertory.
This remarkable recording, which juxtaposes 13th- and 14th-century Spanish and Italian monodic instrumental pieces with similar ones from various living Eastern traditions, reveals the extraordinary extent to which they share a common musical language. Indeed, as a Persian or Moroccan dance is followed by an Italian istampitta or Spanish saltarello, an innocent ear would often struggle to decide which piece originated where - proof that to travel in space is to travel in time.