La Barcha D’amore 1563-1685

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COMPOSERS: Caccini,del Vado,du Bailly,Durón,Gorzanis,Hidalgo,Lully,Marini,Monteverdi,Savall,Scheidt
LABELS: Alla Vox
WORKS: Works by de Gorzanis, Caccini, Marini, Monteverdi, Scheidt, Durón, del Vado, Hidalgo, Savall, Lully, du Bailly
PERFORMER: Montserrat Figueras (soprano); Hespèrion XXI; Le Concert des Nations/Jordi Savall
CATALOGUE NO: AV 9811

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At once a journey through the sound-worlds of 17th-century Europe and a voyage of reflection on one of the most enduring and inspirational musical collaborations of our time, this eclectic selection of works – variously inspired by love, myth and memory – is a compilation of Hespèrion XXI’s recordings made between 1976 and 2008.

The impressive cast-list includes the ensemble’s founders, soprano Montserrat Figueras and viol virtuoso Jordi Savall, soprano Maria Cristina Kiehr, Ton Koopman (harpsichord) and Andrew Lawrence-King (harp), among other players.

Laments, lullabies and plangent passacaglias intertwine here with popular tunes, upbeat dances and divertissements. Among the highlights here are Monteverdi’s Lamento della ninfa, the ensemble relishing its scrunchy dissonances to striking effect; instrumental dances by Samuel Scheidt in which the viols positively sing and sigh with emotion, and Savall’s bravura playing of variations on ‘Greensleeves’.

Less successful are the readings of ‘Une jeune fillette’ – ensemble is slack here – and the lullaby ‘My little sweet darling’ – Figueras sounding rather ill-at-ease with the English text.

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On paper, the programme might at first appear to be a bit of a musical hotchpotch, but there’s a surprising homogeneity of sound and style throughout – testament to Figueras and Savall’s innate musicality, artistic vision and spiritual harmony in a lifetime of collaboration and discovery. Kate Bolton