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

GRAND CAFE OCCITAN: RESTAURANT REVIEW

  We made our way to a new restaurant the other day, up toward the hills past La Liviniere in the small town of Felines-Minervois. None of our party had been there before, but a friend had visited and said that she'd enjoyed it. She's a vegetarian. First clue. Now don't get me wrong. I have no gripe with those who choose to go meatless. I understand the environmental concerns and I understand the horrors of factory farming. But I also understand that form follows function in the design of tools, in the design of appliances, and in the design of human teeth. Our incisors and canines did not develop over the course of hundreds of thousands of years to rend the flesh of a fresh-caught broccoli. We are omnivores by design, Darwinian design. And I enjoy eating omni. Enough preamble... I never went inside the Grand Cafe Occitan. A young lady who would be our server met us at the front door of the nicely pointed old stone house, leading us to a pebble-covered courtyard on the side

DANCING AND SEXISM, JANET JACKSON, HILLARY AND DONALD, AND MORE: #16

   DANCING AND SEXISM Norman and I went to the same high school at the same time, we knew each other, but we had no classes together and weren't really friends. A big, ungainly kid, as a teenager Norman played keyboards for services at a local church. I learned some years after graduation that Norman had gone to a fine arts college and had worked his way up to Resident Organist at a major, big city Protestant congregation. Fast forward to our 25th or 30th high school reunion, I don't remember which. I do remember that when the dancing started, one couple who were obviously into ballroom dancing glided and posed across the floor with serious expressions on their faces. Carefully well rehearsed. Then Norman stepped on the floor, blue suit, white shirt, red tie and all. He stomped. He twirled. His arms and legs flew in every direction. Norman truly danced like no one was watching. I envy Norman's dancing to this day. Sanna Marin wears leather coats, goes to rock concerts, and

MONARCHY, BUTT PATTING, SELF CHECKOUT, AND RANDOM STUFF: #17

  MONARCHY It is not possible to be an English-speaking expat living in Europe without having gained some understanding of how the UK works and how UK policies and politics affect European life. And so, a word about the monarchy is in order today. I'm no monarchist. As an American, I have grown up believing in liberal democracy. Today, I consider myself a democratic socialist. But I have come to appreciate the manner in which British royalty has accommodated itself to the modern world. There is no doubt that accommodation has diminished the role of the monarch. That's probably a good thing. But a diminished monarchy need not necessarily herald the end of the monarchy. Elizabeth's monarchy became simply the personification of her country's flag, to be trotted out to acknowledge community, in good times and in sad times, expressing publicly what was being felt privately. There was a time, during Brexit, when I was furious with Elizabeth. As one of the richest, most well-