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by Nicholas Jones

SAVALL-RebecHespèrion XXI has long broadened from its original musical base (the viol music of the Renaissance in western Europe) to encompass the music of areas usually considered the margins of Europe. The program they presented last week at the Cleveland Museum of Art was a witness to the diverse musical cultures of one of those margins, the rich and dangerous mosaic of the Balkan countries.

In a beautifully crafted program led by the Catalonian gambist Jordi Savall with scrupulous attention to detail as well as overall coherence and impact, this ensemble of seven instrumentalists and five singers took the audience through a moving geographical and emotional journey.

The program was the best tour one could imagine of this troubled and fascinating region. The songs moved through whole worlds of language — Serbian, Greek, Hebrew, Bulgarian, Bosnian, and more. The program’s mobility itself reflected the area’s many diasporas — of Jews, Ottomans, Roma, and Christians alike, who through the centuries have migrated through the region. The singers and instrumentalists themselves were a United Nations of the Balkan peninsula, each a master of their regional style and instrument. Read the rest of this entry »


by Daniel Hathaway

SAVALL-RebecFor the third November in a row, Jordi Savall will visit the Cleveland Museum of Art to play on the museum’s Performing Arts Series. In 2011, Savall appeared with his son, Ferran, in a program called “Music Dialogues from Orient and Occident,” when Jordi played lira da gamba and seven-string bass viol and Ferran played theorbo and sang. In 2012, Jordi Savall brought his ensemble, Hespèrion XXI, to Cleveland to chronicle two centuries of European Renaissance and early Baroque consort music — an occasion on which he played the treble viol.

This year, Savall and Hespèrion XXI will return to Gartner Auditorium on Friday evening, November 1, when the resourceful Catalan musician will play vielle and rebec as part of the Museum’s “Masters of the Violin” series-within-a-series in a program entitled “Honey and Blood: The Cycles of Life in the Mosaic of Christians, Sephardic Jews & Muslims of the Balkans.” The ensemble includes five singers and half a dozen other instrumentalists playing exotic regional instruments. We reached Jordi Savall via Skype in his studio near Barcelona to ask how this program came about. Read the rest of this entry »

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