Jordi Savall i Bernadet (born August 1, 1941) is a Spanish conductor and viol player. He has been one of the major figures in the field of Western early music since the 1970s, largely responsible for popularizing the viol family of instruments (notably the viola da gamba) in contemporary performance and recording. As a historian of early music his repertoire features everything from medieval, Renaissance and Baroque through to the Classical and Romantic periods. He has incorporated non-western musical traditions in his work; including African vernacular music in Les Routes De L’Eslavage or The Routes of Slavery (2017).
His musical training started at age six in the school choir of his native Igualada (1947–55). After graduating from the Barcelona’s Conservatory of Music (where he studied from 1959 to 1965) he specialized in early music, collaborating with Ars Musicae de Barcelona under Enric Gispert, studying with August Wenzinger at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel, Switzerland (1968–70) and eventually succeeding Wenzinger in 1974 as professor of viola da gamba at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis.
In 1974 he formed the ensemble Hespèrion XX (known since 2000 as Hespèrion XXI), together with his wife soprano Montserrat Figueras, Lorenzo Alpert and Hopkinson Smith. Hespèrion XX favored a style of interpretation characterized simultaneously by great musical vitality and maximum historical accuracy.
In 1987 he returned to Barcelona to found La Capella Reial de Catalunya, a vocal ensemble devoted to pre-eighteenth-century music.
In 1989 he founded Le Concert des Nations, an orchestra generally emphasizing Baroque period, but sometimes also Classical and even Romantic music such as, for example, Sinfonía [por] Grande Orquesta by Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga) (1806-1826).
More recently Savall has performed with family members. The family ensemble has included his wife Montserrat Figueras (who died in 2011) and their two children, Arianna and Ferran. Arianna plays the harp and sings, like her mother; Ferran plays the theorbo (bass lute) and sings, not only with his family but also in Barcelona jazz clubs.
Savall’s discography includes more than 100 recordings. Originally recording with EMI Classics, and then from 1975 on Michel Bernstein’s Astrée label, since 1998 he has recorded on his own label, Alia Vox. (by wikipedia)
I’ve been a fan of Jordi Savall and Hesperion XXI for a while. However it must be said that occasionally albums of the ‘early music’ era can be somewhat austere and dry, simply because the compositions may tend that way. This is not one of those recordings. This is fresh, lively, and exquisite music making, absolutely beautifully recorded by masterful musicians.
There is space and air in the sound, a nicely varied palette of different instruments, and the ensembles are small and very well placed to hear each instrument. A lute is a very soft-voiced instrument and typically recorded so that it gets lost competing with a viola da gamba and a harpsichord, but the balance here is exceptional. For instance, on ‘Greensleeves to a Ground’, the two lutes of high and middle registers are clearly placed either side of the gamba with the harpsichord discreetly chiming in when called upon in the background. You can hear every note. Tracks with more bowed strings are likewise beautifully enunciated.
Numbers like the Canarios are sometimes familiar yet fresh. And we’ve all heard the Kanon & Gigue umpteen times and probably have our notions of what it ought to go like and tempos etc. Well there’s certainly no harm in a quick tempoed toss-off as lithely and freshly played as this one. Might even make you forget that plodding interminable version played by an out of tune string quartet at that last wedding you went to.
Much of this is sparkling brisk dance music, yet the graceful introspection of the Marini Passacaglio and the other few mild-tempo numbers are well posed and give the tapping toes a not unwelcome rest.
But this is mostly a vivacious collection that can take you back in time to when the original music makers were not only alive and talented, they were young. (Count Orloff)
Michael Behringer (organ)
Sergi Casademunt (violone)
Bruno Cocset (violoncello)
Xavier Díaz (guitar, theorbo, vihuela)
Pedro Estevan (percussion)
Luca Guglielmi (organ)
Manfredo Kraemer (violin)
Eliseo Parra (percussion)
David Plantier (violin)
Arianna Savall (harp)
Jordi Savall (viola da gamba)
Pablo Valetti (violin)
01. Gallarda Napolitana (Valente)
02. Passamezzo Antico: Zarabanda (Recercada V) (Ortiz)
03. Passacalle (Falconiero)
04. Passamezzo Moderno (Recercada II) (Ortiz)
05. Ciaccona (Falconiero)
06. Ruggiero (Quinta Pars IX) (Ortiz)
07. Romanesca (Recercada VII) (Ortiz)
08. Sopra L’Aria Di Ruggiero (Rossi)
09. Passacalio (Marini)
10. Canarios (unknown)
11. Ruggiero (Merula)
12. Tres Glosas Sobre Todo El Mundo En General (de Auroxo)
13. Ciaccona (Merula)
14. Sonata A 2 (Purcell)
15. 3 Parts Upon A Ground (Purcell)
16. Kanon und Gigue (Pachelbel)
17. Greensleeves To A Ground (Anonymous)