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Ramon Llull – A time of conquests, dialogue…- Savall – Alia Vox

A fascinating probe into one of the most brilliant minds ever to grace the earth.

“Ramon Llull – A time of conquests, dialogue, and disconsolations” = Hespérion XXI /La Capella Reial de Catalunya/ Jordi Savall — Alia Vox multichannel SACD AVSA9917, (2 discs) TT: 137:34 & book [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] ****:

Ramon Llull (1232-1316) was one smart dude—logician, philosopher, Third Order Franciscan, and author of the first major work of Catalan literature. He is also considered a martyr, having been stoned by an angry group of Muslims, and died the following year, though he has only been beatified to this point, in 1857 by Pope Pius IX.

Llull experienced a six-fold vision of Jesus Christ which led him to leave family and position for service to God and the Church. His greatest achievement was probably his Art, given lasting expression in The Ultimate General Art from 1305. His earnest desire was to produce a system that would facilitate the production of knowledge, always devoted to the principles of his faith, and which would give a common philosophical platform that the great monotheistic religions could agree on, thereby providing a stage for the conversion to Christianity.

He wrote no music, and therefore this SACD set presents music and improvisations of the time (and many of the pieces use Ramon’s texts), while interspersing readings of his work. In fact, that is my main criticism of the project, as there are a lot of narrations, none in English, which require attentive use of the texts in the as-always deluxe book that Savall provides. Recordings with a lot of narration bother and usually bore me, and though I admit that is a very personal observation, it is significant enough to alert a prospective buyer. The music is lively and profound as we find on almost all of Savall’s releases, and the storyline certainly interesting from an historical and purely linear perspective. Ramon’s tale is worthwhile and curiously pertinent to today’s world; whether you like hearing it read to you in a language you don’t understand versus a purely musical experience is something only you can decide.

—Steven Ritter

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