LABELS: Alia Vox
WORKS: Music In Praise of Women from AD900-1600
PERFORMER: Montserrat Figueras, Tina Aagaard, Arianna Savall (soprano), Begoña Olavide (mezzo-soprano, psalter), Laurence Bonnal (contralto), Pierre Hamon (flute), Andrew Lawrence-King (harp), Rolf Lislevand (guitar), Driss El Maloumi (oud) etc
CATALOGUE NO: AVSA 9847
Given the right setting I could happily listen to Montserrat Figueras singing the football results. Her voice combines luminous purity with a warmth and colour that conjure up vivid and haunting images of far-off times and places.
With a paradoxical fusion of devotional mysticism and sensuous physicality she brings to life seven centuries of archetypal women from the medieval Mediterranean world. Granted, I am not the most dispassionate judge of this latest jewel in the recorded crown of Figueras and her husband, multi-instrumentalist Jordi Savall, but even the most objective and misogynistic of hard-nosed critics would be hard-pressed to deny it five stars.
The talented ensemble, which includes such luminaries as percussionist Pedro Estevan, flautist Pierre Hamon and harpist Andrew Lawrence-King, surrounds Figueras with sounds that caress the ears and transport the soul to a world of mystery, romance, religious ecstasy and sensual pleasure and contentment.
The sound ‘presence’ (recorded in a Belgian church and a French abbey) is excellent, too. As well as the marvellous instrumentalists, Figueras is heard in the celestial company of a five-piece vocal group, comprising daughter Arianna Savall, Tina Aaagaard (sopranos), Laurence Bonnal (contralto) and mezzo Begona Olavide, who also contributes some fine psalterium accompaniments.