Although the first full consort of viols did not arrive in England until 1540, there were actually several intriguing examples of what are now called "consort" music from before that time. Of course, the homogenous viol consort became supreme, and the present program (also featuring some 2-lute arrangements) focuses on the first part of that repertory. This developed at Elizabeth's court in the 1570s & 1580s, among professional musicians, but based on relatively restrictive models. Some pieces in the present program are composed freely, heralding the next step in consort development which, along with the small output of Byrd, allowed the English consort idiom to fully flower. Of course that was followed closely by the even larger and more famous repertory of consort music by composers such as Gibbons which was eventually geared more toward amateur players.
This box set comprises eight discs recorded by the remarkable Jordi Savall with his wife Montserrat Figueras and the wonderful Hespèrion XX. They span a period of ten or so years from 1976 were originally issued on LP by Virgin Classics. Since those days Savall’s performances have matured and grown in confidence but one can still easily recognize the brains behind the outfit and the sound-world he wanted to create. Later he moved to Auvidis Astrée and in more recent times has set up his own label - Alia Vox - where he really has been set loose. He has produced discs with superb documentation which have investigated many forgotten corners of medieval and Renaissance music which quite often we never even knew existed.
Around the mid-16th century a collection of instrumental music titled Joyous Music (Musique de Joye) appeared in the French city of Lyons. Its contents featured music "appropriate for the human voice" and for "learning how to play spinets, violins, and flutes"–primarily in the form of dances such as pavanes, galliards, and branles. This recording–one of the finest of its kind in the catalog–gives us a generous sampling of the collection's great variety of pieces, which are played to near-perfection by an all-star lineup of early music specialists who perform on assorted viols, flutes, lute and guitar, spinet, and percussion. Three of the tracks are songs, expertly sung by soprano Montserrat Figueras–especially the charming "Il estoit une fillette" by Janequin.
Original released by Auvidis France in 1986. This reissue released by Auvidis-Naïve in 2000 (ES 9956). Couperin places himself between the Italian and French musical styles of his day to create something rather greater than either. For the most part early works, these sonatas with dance suites combine the style of Lully and Louis XIV's court with Corelli's brilliance: the result is a Grand Tour of the high Baroque, given, s'il vous plait, with a French accent. Savall's rendition, true to form, is dark, elegant, and supple. He assigns the trio-sonata texture to differing combinations of violins, oboes, and traversi, all with a large and inspired continuo group. Performers: Monica Huggett, Chiara Banchini, Ton Koopman, Hopkinson Smith, Stephen Preston, Ku Ebbinge &c. Highly recommended.
Jordi Savall, performer, researcher, and promoter of early music, has become known for beautifully produced thematic collections organized around topics as diverse as the worlds of Miguel Cervantes, Christopher Columbus, and Caravaggio, performed by his ensembles Hespèrion XX (and XXI), and La Capella Reial de Catalunya, and recorded on his own label, Alia Vox. This immensely ambitious project, Jerusalem: City of the two peaces: Heavenly Peace and Earthly Peace, consists of two SACDs and a sumptuous book in eight languages, French, Spanish, English, Catalan, German, Italian, Arabic, and Hebrew, that includes a wide assortment of intriguing essays.