The opening concert by Jordi Savall and Hesperion XI at Fira Mediterrania in Manresa (Catalonia, Spain) on November 7th, 2013 was one of the highlights of the week. Savall, who was born in Igualada (near Barcelona), presented his impressive project titled Mare Nostrum, the name for the Mediterranean Sea during the Roman Empire.
Jordi Savall was joined by an international cast of world class international musicians, the Hesperion XXI ensemble. I immediately recognized some of the musicians on stage, most of which are renowned performers on their own. The lineup on this occasion included Nedyalko Nedyalkov on kaval (Bulgaria), Driss el Maloumi on oud and vocals (Morocco), Yair Dalal on oud (Israel), Hakan Güngör on kanun (Turkey), Dimitri Psonis on santur and moresca (Greece), and Pedro Estevan on frame drum, tambourine, darbuka and other drums (Spain). Two superb vocalists participated in this special concert Lior Elmaleh (Israel) and Gusoy Dinçer (Turkey). Jordi Savall directed the ensemble and played viola da gamba and rebab.
Mare Nostrum is conceived as a dialog between Christian, Sephardic, Ottoman and Arab-Andalusian music from the Mediterranean area. Savall’s idea is to go beyond musical expression and reflect upon the history and idiosyncrasy of the Mediterranean Sea and its peoples. The Manresa performance had a focus on the Eastern Mediterranean, with Turkey and Israel playing the leading role.
The virtuoso instrumentalists and vocalists treated the audience to over 90 minutes of sheer pleasure, demonstrating dazzling skill and musical beauty, with a mesmerizing musical voyage across the Mediterranean.
The program included the following pieces: the instrumental ‘Invocation’ (Algeria) with rebab and percussion; Kamti Beivshan Layla (Israel), a Hebrew chant; the medieval piece ‘La Quarte Estampie Royal’ (France) from the Manuscrit du Roi; ‘Rast Nakış Beste’ (Amed nesim-i) by Abdulkadir Meragi, one of the composers of early Ottoman music; ‘Pax in Nomine Domini’ (Occitania) by Marcabru; ‘Hisar Ağır Semai’ by Buhuri Zade Mustafa Efendi (Turkey); the maqam ‘Uzzäl Sakîl Turna Semâ’î’ by ‘Dimitrie Cantemir (Romania); ‘La Moledet Shuvi Roni’ by Asher Mizrahi (Jerusalem); the Sephardic song ‘El rey Nimrod’, the ‘Gazel’ improvisation based on a text by Fuzuli (Turkey); ‘Saltarello’ (Italy); ‘Shaar Petach Dodi’ by Salomon Ibn Gabirol; a taksim and dance from Bulgaria; ‘Hisar Buselik Pesrev’ by Tanburi Mustafa Cavus (Turkey); the maqam ‘Hüseyni Sakil-i Aga Riza’ (Moldova); ‘Konialy’, a Cypriot dance in Turkish and Greek; ‘Ghazali tal jahri’ (Morocco); ‘Torah’ (Israel); ‘Uskudar’ (Turkey); Sephardic piece ‘Durme, hermosa donzella’ (Rhodes); and an Algerian ghazal.
The Mare Nostrum project is available as a gorgeous two-CD and book boxed set, where Savall and Hespèrion XXI explore the facts, myths and legends of the Mediterranean and the influence it’s had over many peoples and cultures from Lebanon to Spain, Morocco to Israel, etc. The album features the late Montserrat Figueras, an outstanding soprano singer; and Lior Elmaleh, who is one of the leading representatives of the new generation of performers of Arab-Andalusian music.
Jordi Savall is a renowned award-winning composer, musician and record producer. He began his musical studies at six years old as a singer in the Children’s Choir in Igualada, his hometown. He later studied cello, completing his education at the Barcelona Conservatory (1964). In 1965 he learned how to play the viola da gamba and early music on his own. In 1968 he moved to Switzerland for advanced studies at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. There he succeeded his teacher August Wenzinger in 1973, and taught many courses and master classes.
Savall formed three notable ensembles Hespèrion XXI (1974), La Capella Reial de Catalunya (1987) and Le Concert des Nations (1989), all founded together with the late Montserrat Figueras. For years Jordi Savall has explored early music, opera and the classical and traditional musics of the Mediterranean, Celtic music and the sounds from other parts of the world.
In 1998 Savall founded the successful Alia Vox record label. He also composed the soundtrack to to Alain Corneau’s film Tous les Matins du Monde (winner of a Césarbest soundtrack award).
Savall has a busy concert schedule, with over 140 concerts a year and normally records about 6 albums a year.
Buy Mare Nostrumin North America
Buy Mare Nostrum in Europe
Watch an earlier concert by Savall and Hesperion XXI:
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.