Jordi Savall

Hesperion XXI in Berkeley

Jordi-savall-hesperionxxi * Notes * 
Jordi Savall's Hespèrion XXI performed a sold-out concert in Berkeley last Tuesday. The program, entitled Lux Feminae (900-1600): Seven Portraits of the Woman in Ancient Hesperia, featured soprano Montserrat Figueras (she also accompanied herself with the cithara); Pierre Hamon on woodwind instruments including the ney, gaita, and flutes; Dimitri Psonis playing the stringed instruments of oud, santur, and morisca; and Savall himself played rebab and lira da gamba. The recital started with Hamon playing both a wind instrument and drumming his way down the aisle from the back of the hall. The playing was rousing throughout and the instrumental pieces were particularly beautiful. Figueras was slightly amplified, and this was unnecessary in the space, being a rather small church rather than a huge concert hall. At times she was painfully loud, though her voice is quite pretty and vibrant.

* Tattling * 
The concert lasted a solid 90 minutes without intermission. This does not include the rather amusing encore of one tune played in Greek, Turkish, and Jewish versions.

Jordi Savall conducts PBO

Savall * Notes * 
Jordi Savall started his run of six performance with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in San Francisco last Friday. The program, entitled "The French Suite in Europe," began with the Suite du Ballet de Stockholm by Guillaume Dumanoir and Anonymous. The orchestra started off quite crisply and the concertmaster, Carla Moore, played boldly. The brass was clear, but the woodwinds squeaked, and someone was out of tune during the Presto (Tambourin). The oboes and bassoon sounded better in Lully's Suite from Alceste, and the piccolo was suitably harsh in Les Démons: 2ème Air. The trumpets were a bit hazy, but overall the piece had a pleasing stateliness followed by triumph at the end.

After the intermission Savall was the soloist in Telemann's Ouverture in D Major for Viola da gamba, strings, and continuo. The musicians of the Philharmonia played beautifully, and Savall was arresting, the viola da gamba sounded rich, passionate, and never cloying. The finale consisted of a vigorous performance of two suites from "Water Musick" by Händel, the second and third. With the exception of few stray sour notes from the trumpets in Alla Hornpipe, the orchestra sounded crystalline. The horns did particularly well.

* Tattling * 
There was only a tiny bit of talking from the couple in Row C Seats 8 and 10 of the orchestra, but just during the Suite du Ballet de Stockholm, when the first violin solo began. By chance, we were seated next to the friends who introduced us to PBO in the first place.

The encore, the contradanse from Ramaeu's Les Boréades, was wonderfully fun, as it involved audience participation. We clapped a certain rhythm, but only when cued by Savall, and "not too loud," as he requested.