CULTURE

Early music and lost paradises

Throughout his life, talented Catalan Jordi Savall has been involved with the study and interpretation of preclassical music. He has introduced audiences to unknown and forgotten compositions and traditions, orchestral and vocal, secular and religious. Local audiences now have the opportunity to listen to Savall – who acquired wider recognition with his score for the 1991 film «Tous les matins du monde» – perform at the Athens Concert Hall’s Christos Lambrakis Hall (formerly known as the Friends of Music Hall) this coming Sunday. He will be joined by his well-known Hesperion XXI music ensemble, the Capella Reial de Catalunya vocal ensemble as well as soprano Montserrat Figueras, who has also been his wife for 42 years. The concert, which Savall will also direct, is titled «Christopher Columbus: Lost Paradises» and further features poets Manuel Forcano and Jesus Fuente as narrators (there will be Greek surtitles). In a phone interview with Kathimerini while in Krakow, one of the stops on his tour, Savall explained why he chose this title for the performance. «The concert contains music and songs from the time that Columbus lived, a time that changed the history of the world. When I chose the term ‘lost paradises,’ I had two lost paradises in mind and the first one has to do with the expulsion of Jews from Spain. For centuries, Christians, Jews and Muslims lived harmoniously in Spain – not without problems, but still harmoniously. In a sense, it was a paradise that was lost, a multinational community where one gained from the other. «The second lost paradise is about the discovery of America. Once again, the Caribbean islands, where the Spanish conquerors initially arrived, had tribes that lived harmoniously with nature, the people were not acquainted with money and, literally, lived in a paradise. What happened was that we arrived and destroyed them. We killed, tortured, enslaved them and drove them away from their land. Music and poetry «In this concert, the music of the Christians, Muslims and Jews of the time will provide the framework for the recitation of poems written in that period by representatives of all three communities, also in the language of these Caribbean tribes, a beautiful and lost language.» Savall further explained that every single project he undertakes is preceded by extensive research, which goes well beyond music. With every album, he not only explores a lost musical continent but also a large part of the cultural context that goes with it. The results are always fascinating and, in the 40 years that Savall has been doing this work, he has gained a devoted fan base which helped him found his own record label. «Now we have freedom of movement. After exploring Europe, for the past 12 years we have opened up to the East. We still have a lot to discover.» Athens Concert Hall, 1 Kokkali & Vas. Sofias, tel 210.728.2333