This most recent recording from the always entertaining Jordi Savall is a 250-year exploration of the “Folia” a Portuguese peasant dance that first began to appear in written form around 1500. A source of amazing popularity, the Folia was quoted regularly by musicians and composers in royal courts across the European continent. Modern composers were also seduced by its spell, with Corelli, Vivaldi, Liszt and Rachmaninoff among the guilty parties. Upon first hearing this disc, I had that sense of déjà vu immediately – I knew I’d heard this piece somewhere, and recently. A bit of detective work revealed the source – the excellent release from a year or so ago of Corelli Violin Sonatas with Andrew Manze and Richard Egarr on Harmonia Mundi, which uses the Folia as the basis for one of the sonata variations.
You’d think a historically oriented disc with fifteen permutations of the same source tune would be anything but engaging and enjoyable, but to say that this enchanting disc is a pleasure to listen to is an understatement, indeed. Jordi Savall and company have breathed a vigor and verve into this early music meditation, that in other, less capable hands, might have become a real snoozefest. And the sound is superb, on par with everything else from the excellent Alia Vox label. My only complaint is that I only received a standard Red Book CD; I understand that the multichannel SACD of this disc is even more breathtaking. Very highly recommended.
— Tom Gibbs