Tuesday, March 5, 2013

REVIEW: Jordi Savall - Les Voix Humaines

City Hall Concert Hall, Saturday March 2

It was a cold winter night and the heater was down. The room was dark except for the floor lamp shedding just enough light to illuminate the music stand. Behind the stand was a man in his coat and scarf with his legs embracing an instrument that looked familiar yet not and sounded familiar yet not. Except for a few coughs and once a phone ringing in the next room, there was nobody else and no other sound in the room except for the peculiar instrument singing with voice that was weak yet intense. There was only him and I; and he was playing for me only.

That may sound a bit melodramatic, but fortunately, that was how I exactly felt. The City Hall Concert Hall has never ever felt more intimate than Jordi Savall’s recital. I always believe the importance of venue befitting the type of performance, but in the case of this recital, the staging, the programme and the performance defied it. The hall was surprisingly packed and the performance was amplified. From where I was seated though, the amplification was subtle enough not to take away the magic of hearing live a true virtuoso of viola da gamba playing it all alone. The purity of sound and the experience was like going back in time and hearing the 1697 Barak Norman 7-string viola da gamba in a small hall.

The title Les Voix Humaines came from one of the most beautiful pieces of music by 17th century French composer and viol player Marin Marais, but it is also used as the title of the recital to emphasize the human quality of the sounds the instrument is capable of producing. Needless to say, in the hands of Savall, the instrument sang, breathed, sighed, laughed and cried and when required it became a bagpipe! Personal favorites are the set pieces of Marin Marais and The Bag-pipes Tuning from Manchester Gamba Book (anonymous).

This could possibly be the most riveting event of the Festival!

Les Voix Humaines (The Human Voices)


Karl Friedrich Abel (1723-1787)
- Prélude
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
- Allemande
Johannes Schenck (1660-after 1710)
- Aria Burlesca

Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe le fils (c. 1660-1720)
- Fantaisie en Rondeau
Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe (c. 1640-1701)
- Les Pleurs (The Tears)
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
- Bourrée (& improvisations)

Le Sieur de Machy (second half of 17th century)
- Prélude en Ré mineur
Marin Marais (1656-1728)
- Les Voix Humaines (The Human Voices)
- Muzettes I & II La
- Sautillante (The Hopping Dancer)

Tobias Hume (c. 1569-1645)
- Musicall Humors A Souldiers March
- Captaine Hume's Pavin & Galliard
- Harke, Harke – Woope Doe Me No Harme
- A Souldiers Resolution

Lessons for the Lyra-Viol - Alfonso Ferrabosco II (c. 1575-1628)
- Coranto
Thomas Ford (c. 1580-1648)
- Why Not Here?
John Playford (1623-1686)
- La Cloche (The Bell) – Sarabande in F major

The Bag-pipes Tuning from Manchester Gamba Book (c.1580-1640)
- A Pointe or Preludium (Prelude)
- The Lancashire Pipes (The Lancashire Bag-pipes)
- The Pigges of Rumsey (The Rumsey’s Pets)
- The Cup of Tee (The Cup of Tea)
- Kate of Bardie
- A Toye (A Toy)

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