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, originally recorded in 1992, was remastered in 2008 and issued as part of the Heritage series of Jordi Savall's Alia Vox label in a nifty combination of reissue and improvement. The album certainly qualifies as one of the greatest hits of Savall (whose role here is as gambist, with a small ensemble of northern European players ) and his wife, soprano Montserrat Figueras, who is the star of the show. Figueras' vocals are as usual a central attraction, with their incredible combination of suppleness, accuracy over a wide range, expression, and Iberian gutsiness. But the program here, though somewhat removed from the Iberian core of the Figueras/Savall repertory, is equally compelling.
This album gathers highlights from Montserrat Figueras career for the Astrée, DHM, EMI and Alia Vox labels. 5 of the 35 tracks have already been reissued in a portrait album released in the 1990s by Astrée, La 'Voix de l Emotion'. Jordi Savall wanted to keep the same title for this much more comprehensive double album, in tribute to the late Montserrat Figueras, his wife and collaborator of 43 years. 35 year-career: 35 tracks a dazzlingly clear soprano voice, a line of the purest silk, as strong as it was delicate.
Jordi Savall directs Le Concert des Nations, La Capella Reial de Catalunya and the leading soloists of early opera in a beautiful period production of Monteverdi's favola in musica staged at Barcelona's Gran Teatre del Liceu in 2002. Gilbert Deflo's stage direction reflects the sublime art and imagery found in Mantua's Palazzo Ducale, with its famous Hall of Mirrors, where the opera was first performed in 1607.
A homage to the memory of victims of the slave trade. This new multicultural project from Jordi Savall and his musicians on The Routes of Slavery (1444-1888) marks a world first in the history of music and of the three continents involved in the trade in African slaves and their exploitation in the New World, which are brought together through the early music of the colonial period, the musical traditions of Mali and the oral traditions of the descendants of slaves in Madagascar, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico. This 'Musical Memoir' is accompanied with historical texts on slavery, beginning with the early chronicles of 1444 and concluding with texts written by the Nobel Peace Prize-winner Martin Luther King shortly before his assassination in 1968.
These seven discs recorded between 1995 and 2000 make up a fabulous anthology of early seventeenth-century Italian music. A large number of composers are gathered round the central figure of Claudio Monteverdi; while some of them, like Salomone Rossi, Biagio Marini and Dario Castello, are among the musicians with whom he worked in Mantua or Venice, others illustrate the extraordinary musical creativity of the period, whether it be Sigismondo d’India, Tarquinio Merula, Francesco Cavalli, Alessandro Grandi, or so many other lesser-known personalities, each of whom helped to build the rapidly growing edifice of Italian Baroque music.
This innovative programme, created at Ambronay Festival in 2009 by the Argentine Leonardo García Alarcón chief sees musicians alternate between baroque and modern instruments to interpret the most beautiful pages of Astor Piazzólla (Milonga del Angel, Ballada para un loco) and Claudio Monteverdi (Lamento della ninfa, Orfeo). During the extensive live tour of this project in 2009, members of the audience pointed out that in the end they didn't know where Monteverdi stopped and Piazzolla began.