Skip to main content

JORDI SAVALL AT ABBAYE DE FONTFROID - CONCERT REVIEW


The annual concert series under the musical direction of Jordi Savall at the Abbaye de Fonfroid, a Cistercian abbey founded in the 11th Century near the city of Narbonne in the south of France, is a source of pure delight for aficionados of Early Music. Savall is a master of the viola da gamba and Hesperion XXI, the group that he founded over 40 years ago, is the gold standard when it comes to Renaissance music and similar forms. If we could afford to attend every evening during the week-long event, we wouldn't hesitate. This year, we chose to attend the concert entitled The Road of Slavery. With narration describing events from the 15th through the 20th Century, master musicians from Latin America and Africa joined Hesperion XXI and La Capella Reial de Catalunya (the choir founded by Savall 30 years ago to complement Hesperion) for two lengthy sets, music and narration without pause, shifting from Mexican to Brazilian to Andean to African rhythms with seamless ease.

As a music presenter of world music on WDIY-FM, the NPR affiliate in my old Lehigh Valley stomping grounds, I was particular pleased to learn that the African contingent included master kora player Ballake Sissoko, Rajery on valiha (African tubular harp), and the commanding vocals of Kasse Mady Diabate.

This was heady stuff, performed with skill and energy, hopping back and forth across the Atlantic, keeping the crowd in the ancient main chapel at Fontfroid enthralled in spite of the oppressive heat - easily topping 90F (32C) even though the concert didn't begin until 9:30 in the evening. The performance was taped for possible broadcast. If you have the chance, don't miss it.

By the way, the YouTube clip above gives you a taste of type if not scale. There were about 30 voices and instrumentalists on stage last night. Jordi is the guy with the silver beard.



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

BURGER KING, NARBONNE: RESTAURANT REVIEW (GOD FORGIVE ME)

After 48 years, The Southern Woman That I Married can still surprise me.

We went shopping the other day. You see, we're at the beginning of the French winter sales. Yes, stores here have sales all of the time, but I'm talking about THE SALES. Twice each year, once in winter and once in summer, every store holds sales. It's an official thing. There's a national start date (although it may vary a bit from region to region), a national end date, and stores are not permitted to bring in stock just for THE SALES. So these are true clearances. Discounts can be 70% or more. Serious savings.

Yes, I know. Controlled capitalism. How could it possibly work? Hint: It works because everybody buys into it, even the capitalists.


The day before we hit the shops, Cathey said,"Let's have lunch at Burger King." Be aware that Cathey has been trying to find a decent hamburger ever since we arrived in France. We've tried Buffalo Grill. We've ordered a burger at one o…

ASIA MARKET, BEZIERS: WORTH A VISIT

The Southern Woman That I Married is an accomplished, multi-cultural cook. Over the years, our table has been graced with examples of authentic fare from the world over. If there is one limitation to the diversity of the menus that Cathey can create here in the south of France, it's the availability of proper ingredients. Sometimes, it's the simple things. I've spent my entire life enjoying lox on a bagel smeared with cream cheese for breakfast on a Sunday morning. There's fine smoked salmon on display in just about every supermarket here, but even though the packaging of Philadelphia Cream Cheese looks the same as in the States, the formula is clearly different. It just doesn't taste the same. And a bagel? A real, honest-to-goodness, Brooklyn-style bagel? In the rural south of France? Fuhgeddaboudit.

For Cathey's cookery, more exotic fare than bagels and cream cheese is required. Almost immediately after our move here four years ago, she lamented the difficult…

FRENCH VISA AND HEALTH INSURANCE FOR AMERICANS

The most expensive item in an American family's budget may be health insurance. But many Americans have no understanding of the true cost of their insurance because it's included in their employment package. Folks simply don't think about how much their employer may be reducing their salaries when factoring in insurance costs.

Before I retired, my employer paid for my health insurance but I had to pay to insure my wife. The cost, taken out of my every paycheck, came to about $6,000 annually. And even with insurance, there were co-pays and other out of pocket expenses. We were reasonably healthy (and still are, knock wood), but we each take a few common prescription medications - for blood pressure and cholesterol and the like, nothing exotic or costly. Even so, with regular visits to the doctor, periodic lab work, the drugs, and the occasional illness or injury, we normally spent an additional several thousand dollars annually in the States over and above the cost of the i…