COMPOSERS: Breton,Marais,Ortiz,Ribayaz,Savall,trad. and anon.,Works by Codax
LABELS: Alia Vox
ALBUM TITLE: Du Temps & Du L’Instant
WORKS: find works
PERFORMER: Montserrat Figueras (singer), Jordi Savall (vièle, viola da gamba), Arianna Savall (singer, harps), Ferran Savall (singer, theorbo), Pedro Estevan (percussion)
CATALOGUE NO: AV 9841
The Savall clan intends this highly personal selection of music – crossing temporal, geographical and cultural barriers – to create a dialogue between East and West, ‘cultivated’ and ‘popular’ works, ancient and contemporary music, and different generations of performers: Jordi Savall and Montserrat Figueras are joined by their son and daughter as well as longtime colleague Estevan.
The timbres Savall elicits from the combinations of bowed and plucked instruments are atmospheric, striking and elegant, often fragile but never brittle, providing gorgeous settings for the voices. Figueras’s singing is, as ever, stunning, both in the repertoire we most associate with her (like the pieces by Martin Codax and Marin Marais) and the wide range of folk songs or folk-based realisations. Sometimes, as on the traditional Greek Apo Xeno Meros, she recalls the equally remarkable Cathy Berberian.
The weak point of the album is the repertoire. There are several gems, but the usual mesmerising effect of a Savall and Figueras performance dissipates here thanks to the inclusion of rather anodyne, MOR items like Fantasiant, improvised by Arianna and Ferran, and La Canco del Lladre, a traditional Catalan song sounding here like a Katy Melua reject. Five stars for performance, sound and presentation, but three-and-a-half for repertoire. Barry Witherden