After years of playing the various Folias by Diego Ortiz, Antonio de Cabezón, Antonio Martín y Coll, Arcangelo Corelli and Marin Marais, it became clear to us that there were certain links between the origin and evolution of the important art of musical improvisation and variation and the viola da gamba, or bass viol, itself. In fact, it is no mere coincidence that, throughout the 16th century, and in places as different as France (Adrian Le Roy, 1551), Italy (Vicenzo Ruffo, 1564) and Germany (Matthäus Waissel, 1573), we find references in the various manuscripts and printed documents to the term “gamba”, used as a synonym for “Folia”.
Throughout the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, as the new, centralized power of the absolute state was established in most European nations, royal courts all over Europe became the very heart of cultural and artistic life in their respective countries. They assembled an elite of aristocratic courtiers who were expected to master the principles of poetry, dance and vocal and instrumental music, as much as they were supposed to follow a strict and complex etiquette in all aspects of daily social interaction, adopt a luxurious and ever-changing fashion code, or sustain a refined conversation with a lady.
English composer and violinist William Brade was a significant transitional figure in instrumental music between the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Brade is credited with transplanting English musical practices most readily associated with William Byrd, Peter Philips, and John Dowland to North German and Scandinavian soil, and in aiding the transformation from the Renaissance notion of the English consort to the more continental Baroque idea of a string orchestra.
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.
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.
Perhaps it all goes back to one dark winter’s night of the incipient and hope-filled year of 1400, at the dawn of a century that had just begun. A century which was soon to unravel the marvellous stories and odysseys of a newly rediscovered millennial civilization, an ancient era when philosophers taught wisdom and humanity, when the music of Orpheus could tame even the most savage of beasts. In the midst of so many novelties and marvels, it is no wonder that minstrels aspired to a new, more expressive and richer sound, to create a musica nova, or a new music, that came from a single instrument combining the love song of the old vihuela de arco or bowed fiddle, the rebab or troubadour’s rebec, and the sweet sounds of the Moorish lute, with its potential for beautiful harmonies and joyful rhythms, which gave way to the vihuela de mano in the wake of the successive expulsions of the Jews in 1492 and the Moriscos in 1609.
Coinciding with the 500th anniversary of the birth of Saint Francis Borgia, Fourth Duke of Gandia, Jordi Savall and Alia Vox offer a visually lavish and artistically comprehensive new release entitled Dinastia Borgia. Savall’s latest musicological/historical quest focuses on music from the time of the Borgia dynasty, including works by composers such as Isaac, Dufay and Morales, from Pope Alexander VI/6 and two of his children, Cesare and Lucrezia, through to Francis Borgia, Jesuit priest and, perhaps, composer. For five centuries, scholars have studied and debated the role of the Borgias in Renaissance history. Although their name is synonymous with Papal corruption and they were undoubtedly malevolent and immoral, as patrons of the arts, the Borgias were also instrumental in the period’s explosive growth of culture.
Farnace was apparently one of Vivaldi's favorite operas, because he mounted numerous productions in various cities, and wrote six versions of the score, more than of any of his other operas. The conventions of operatic vocal characterizations that came to be standard – higher voices in the sympathetic roles, and lower voices in villainous roles – had not yet been established, and Farnace features a baritone and contralto in the heroic roles, with a soprano as the villain. Soprano Adriana Fernández shines as the wicked Berenice, who is redeemed at the very last minute. She has a full, creamy voice that she deploys appealing agility and warmth. As Tamira, contralto Sara Mingardo sings with power, authority, and deep feeling. In the title role, baritone Furio Zanasi is appropriately heroic, with a rich, refined timbre and the expressive depth to create sympathy for the conflicted protagonist, but he doesn't always have the necessary strength at the bottom of his range. One of his arias, the lyrical and poignant "Gelido in ogni vena," is among the composer's loveliest creations.
This reissue offers music lovers a golden opportunity to hear one of the truly great sets of Brandenburg Concertos. Listeners familiar with the fast, super-bright sound of certain famous British and German authentic instrument groups such as The English Concert or Musica Antiqua Kцln, will find much to savor in these warmly dark-toned versions. Gamba player turned conductor Jordi Savall treats each work with positively epicurean relish.
Farnace was apparently one of Vivaldi's favorite operas because he mounted numerous productions in various cities and wrote six versions of the score, more than of any of his other operas. The conventions of operatic vocal characterizations that came to be standard higher voices in the sympathetic roles and lower voices in villainous roles had not yet been established, and Farnace features a baritone and contralto in the heroic roles, with a soprano as the villain.