Jordi Savall, once more time, shares with us a beautiful program of instrumentals and chorals pieces from the middle age. Alfons X El Sabio Cantigas are the most popular music pieces about this period, but also really majestic. The sound of this album is really magic. A very good choice for a first approach…
"By the end of Middle Ages the monks of Montserrat had assembled a distiguished library. Unfortunately this was largely destroyed in 1811 during the Napoleonic wars. The most precious surviving medieval manuscript in the Scriptorium at Montserrat is undoubtedly the famous Ms. No. 1, known as the Llibre Vermell or Red Book of Montserrat, from the colour of the late 19th century velvet which covers the binding of the codex. The manuscript completed in 1399, originally contained about 172 double pages, or folios, of which 35 have been lost. Included in the Llibre Vermell are ten musical works - possibly more originally - by a number of unknown composers."
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.
This new project is a Tribute to Erasmus (1466-1536), a Dutch Renaissance scholar, known as the 'Prince of the Humanists'. Using humanist techniques for working on texts, he prepared important new Latin and Greek editions of the New Testament and also wrote 'In Praise of Folly', 'Handbook of a Christian Knight' and many other works. Erasmus lived against the backdrop of the growing European religious Reformation; but while he was critical of the abuses within the Church and called for reform, he kept his distance from Luther and Melancthon and continued to recognise the authority of the Pope. His middle of the road approach disappointed and even angered scholars in both camps. Jordi Savall regards him as a model of wisdom and tolerance.
The Ensalada (musical salad) is a poetical work which combines lines in different languages, as well as instrumental sonatas. It is rooted in the medieval practice of singing different texts simultaneously, and incorporates well-known romances and madrigalist elements. Generally based on stories from Christ birth, ensaladas a big portrait, a la Janequin, occupying a midway position between art and folk music.
The works on this 2-CD set all come from a single source: a document called "Cancionero de Montecassino" which is believed to contain works composed between 1430 and 1480. Somehow the document has survived down through the centuries; it was almost lost when the Abbey where it was stored was bombed in 1944. Luckily the document survived so that this amazing CD set could be recorded by the - also amazing - Le Capella Reial de Catalunya. This CD is the second in a series entitled "Musicas Reales", the first of which being "Carlos V" containing works mainly from the 16th century. If you enjoyed that one, then "Alfons V el Magnanim" will be a welcome addition to your CD spinner.
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.
Malgré son titre, on ne peut vraiment pas accuser ce nouvel album de Savall de n’être guère épais : voilà une cinquantaine de pièces de mille origines chantant qui la guerre, qui la paix ; là où Savall est hautement original, c’est qu’il présente toutes les nations belligérantes de la Renaissance jusqu’à, à la louche, le milieu du XVIIIe siècle, de l’Espagne à l’Angleterre en passant par toutes les Allemagnes, l’Italie, l’Europe centrale sans oublier les forces orientales, en particulier l’Empire Ottoman – dont toutes les musiques ne sont pas anonymes, puisqu’il s’y trouve également Dervis Mehmet – et dont l’on pourra entendre une vraie « marche turque », la musique des janissaires qui a tant inspiré les musiciens européens dès les grandes incursions ottomanes (dont on rappelle qu’elles frôlèrent les portes de Vienne, par exemple en 1683).
Twenty years after his work on the soundtrack of Jacques Rivette's movie Jeanne la Pucelle, Jordi Savall returns to this powerful subject matter and presents a new set dedicated to the mother figure of the struggle for French independence. The music on Joan of Arc - Battles and Prisons provides the perfect atmosphere for Savall's fresh look this historical icon. Alongside works by composers from the time of Joan of Arc (Guillaume Dufay, Josquin Desprez, Johannes Vincenet, Johannes Cornago, etc.), the set also features compositions and arrangements by Jordi Savall. The biographical program of the set is further illustrated through spoken dialogue. The accompanying 500 page, six language hardbound book is richly illustrated and provides historical perspective as well as texts and translations. The result is an amazingly vivid portrait of a troubled time.
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.