*”Lachrimae Caravaggio” – Compositions by Jordi Savall and Improvisations by Le Concert des Nations & Hesperion XXI incl. Andrew Lawrence-King, harp, and Ferran Savall, voice – Alia Vox

by | Jun 14, 2007 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

“Lachrimae Caravaggio” – Compositions by Jordi Savall and Improvisations by Le Concert des Nations & Hesperion XXI incl. Andrew Lawrence-King, harp, and Ferran Savall, voice – Alia Vox Multichannel SACD AVSA 9852 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi], 77:41 *****:

This is another of the strikingly beautiful SACD packages from AliaVox, and as usual crammed with informative notes and illustrations.  The note booklet in the three-way foldout cardboard case is in fact about double the thickness of the disc-nesting holder. Or course part of this is due to it being in several languages. The texts are by Dominique Fernandez and the concept of the project is to present a concert program on the age and art of the 17th century painter Caravaggio. The improvisations and compositions are rooted in the 17th century and use authentic instruments of that period, but their expression and musical language is colored by the present century.  What Savall seeks to do is to provide a sort of “imaginary soundtrack” to bring the listener into the world of Caravaggio. The idea came out of Savall’s invitation to present a concert tied in with an exhibit of Caravaggio’s paintings at the National Museum of Art in Barcelona, where he is headquartered.

The album’s notes are illustrated with prints of various important Caravaggio paintings and closeups of some of the figures in them. The painter has been described as bringing the “scuro” to “chiaroscuro” – his bringing of faces and other details out of dramatic darkness surpasses even Rembrandt. He often got into trouble with church clients because his paintings were so painfully realistic and avoided the corny religious clichés of angels, halos and lavish costumes and backgrounds. He could also be violent, and was accused of killing a man, and spent time in prison. He was probably bisexual, suspected of having relations with both the young men and women who were his models.  (The only small criticism I would have about the album is its lack of even a short biography on Caravaggio – had to visit good ol’ Wikipedia for that.)

Savall was inspired by a quote from Goethe about painting needing to have its bass continuo, and decided to follow it literally. Some of the works are homage to composers of the period such as Gesualdo (who also killed a man, by the way), Monteverdi and Trabaci – others are just created in the spirit of the Baroque. All are instrumental except for four short vocal sections by a member of Savall’s family. There is plenty of variety in the instrumentation and sound of the various selections. I should admit that aside from the harpsichord sonatas of Scarlatti I am not a serious early music fan, yet I was absolutely captivated by the program.  It made me feel I should revise my lack of serious interest in early music. Of course part of this effect is due to it being mostly instrumental music, which I prefer, as well as modern slant. The clarity of the different instruments on the soundstage is superb – one really has the feeling they are assembled in your listening room.  This is a very special musical experience which should have considerable appeal. You don’t need to delve deeply into the musicological or even the art aspects of the project – just sit back and soak up this amazing music.

Here is a list of the selections on this very full SACD:

1. Cantus Caravaggio I
2. I Lachrimae Tristes
3. Deloratio I
4. Planetus Caravaggio I
5. Extasis
6. Fantasia (D’apres Gesualdo)
7. 2 Lachrimae Invocantis
8. Sinfonia Di Guerra (D’apres Monteverdi)
9. Pugna & Damnatio
10. Imploratio
11. Deploratio II
12. Concentus (D’apres Rossi)
13. 3 Lachrimae Dolcissima
14. Durezze E Ligature (D’apres Trabaei)
15. Passacaglia ‘Umbrae’
16. Cantus Caravaggio II ‘O Lux’
17. 4 Lachrimae Amara
18. Transitio
19. Passacaglia ‘Libertas’
20. 5 Lachrimae Dolente
21. Deploratio III
22. Consonanze Stravaganti (D’apres Trabaei)
23. Cantus Caravaggio III ‘Extempore’
24. 6 Lachrimae Gementes
25. Spiritum Morientis
26. Liberatio
27. Deploratio IV
28. 7 Lachrimae Exultantes
29. Planctus Caravaggio II

 – John Sunier

Related Reviews
Logo Pure Pleasure
Logo Apollo's Fire
Logo Crystal Records Sidebar 300 ms
Logo Jazz Detective Deep Digs Animated 01