Isabel I, Queen of Castilla – Jordi Savall directs

by | Jun 1, 2005 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

VARIOUS COMPOSERS: Isabel I, Reina De Castilla – Members of
Hesperion XXI/Jordi Savall, director, viol/Montserrat Figueras,
mezzo-soprano/Arianna Savall, soprano. Alia Vox Multichannel SACD
AVSA9838 *****:

There is not much you can fault any CD Jordi Savall produces or plays
in. The man is not only a genius at coaxing melancholic tones from the
viol, he is also the most creative of musical programmers. In this one
he manages to find Catalan musical pieces, both vocal and instrumental,
from key years during the reign of Queen Isabel I of Spain (1451-1504).
The music is an entrancing mixture of west European sacred/secular
polyphony, Sephardic ballads, and dance pieces with obvious Moorish
influence. In what must be the most propitious musical marriage of
modern times, the astounding Montserrat Figueras performs with her
husband Savall in haunting pieces like Triana, which sounds like a love
ballad but is about the Immaculate Conception. His daughter Arianna
sings on this piece too, and sings well, but not with the same
weathered style as her mother. Most of the vocal works are translated
except the most beautiful one: Cancion en ritmo Quddan de la Nuba Gribt
Al Hussein de Marruecos. Sung in what appears to be Arabic, it could be
about anything. (Was this the annotator’s oversight or couldn’t they
find a translator?) Buy this attractively packaged, well engineered,
splendidly performed disc. The SACD sound is rotund and opulent,
particularly in the polyphonic choral interludes. You can’t go wrong.

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