The legendary musician Jordi Savall and his orchestra Le Concert des Nations presented exquisite program The Tempests, Storms and Sea Festivites in the Moscow Concert Hall Zaryadye.
The arrival of Jordi Savall was an exceptional phenomenon for Moscow music lovers and fans of Baroque music. Renowned conductor and performer on viola da gamba, he was one of those who, with the fearlessness of the first maritime explorer, went to the discovery of the once new mainland of historically informed performances. Today, he has more than half a century of creativity behind him, in which he happily combined the different facets of his nature — a sophisticated musician, a scrupulous researcher, a wise teacher and discerning creator of his unique and successful cultural projects. The list of titles and awards of the 78-year-old Maestro is no less astounding than the collection of his musical recordings, many of which are already recognized as cult ones (including his famous performance Orpheus by Claudio Monteverdi, on the stage of the Liceu Opera Barcelona).
For the Moscow concert, Jordi Savall chose instrumental compositions of the 17th-18th centuries, which were combined by the thematic title The Homage to the Earth. The Tempests, Storms and Sea Festivites in the the Baroque Europe. For the first time the program was executed five years ago and gained wide fame thanks to the TV Channel Mezzo. This concert, kind of music anthology, like most of the projects of the «Great Catalan» Jordi Savall (the epithet «great» in the case of him does not look like an exaggeration), is the result of personal research, which the conductor and scientist, together with the musicians of his orchestra Le Concert des Nations generously share with the audience. Following the general line of creativity, he emphatically enriches the palette of the Baroque repertoire, including new names and titles, offering fresh analogies, expanding the horizons of a familiar look at the history of music.
Jordi Savall made his program, like a musical cruise, as he has been an experienced captain. The core of the first part of the itinerary is the Concert for flute and orchestra La tempest di mare by Antonio Vivaldi (RV 433). The soloist Pierre Amon conquered the spectators by his phenomenal virtuosity and moreover during this composition, the conductor left his place and listened to the music together with the audience. The second part of the musical voyage was directed to the orchestral suite by Georg Philipp Telemann Water Music: Hamburg ebb and flood (TWV 55: C3). And rival in brightness of theatrical images were music fragments by Jean-Philippe Rameau from Les Indes galantes, Hippolyte et Aricie, Zoroastre, which spectacularly completed the evening. Also other two temperamental musical works were played encore – Contredanse from Les Boréades by Jean-Philippe Rameau, which was performed by the rhythmic applauses of the audience, and La bourrée d’Avignonez.
The conductor chose the opuses of the composers of the «second row», as the «new coasts», transforming them with the magic of perfect performance and encouraging listeners to make their own discoveries. For example, in Matthew Locke’s Music for the Shakespearean The Tempest, we can catch the origins of the creativity of his younger contemporary Henry Purcell. And in the choreographic symphony Les Éléments by Jean-Féri Rebel (who was the student of Jean-Baptiste Lully), the magnificent spirit of the dancing era of Louis XIV was coexisted unexpectedly with the orchestra cluster as a sort of «guest from the future».
One of the most piercing pages of the concert program were plays from the opera Alcyone by Marin Marais, who has been a cult figure for Jordi Savall. Their names were connected not only by Alain Corneau’s legendary film All the Mornings of the World (Tous les matins du monde) where Gérard Depardieu embodied the image of Marin Marais, and off-screen Jordi Savall’s viola da gamba was voiced (moreover the film received seven Cesar awards, including for the best soundtrack to the film). At one time, the familiarity with the works of Marin Marais was become momentous for Savall, exposing the kinship of two musician’s souls. For both of them the meeting with music was happened in childhood with singing in a church choir, and then it was turned into passionate worship of the art of playing the viola da gamba.
To some extent, the concert was a fascinating study of the toposes of baroque music which were stated in the spectacular name of the program, and which were hidden in the bowels of dance suites. Pictures of raging natural elements, for which even a vintage wind machine was needed, were replaced by charming idylls. The gallant pas of the minuet interchanged with the elastic steps of the march, and the sorrowful sadness of the chaconne contrasted with the fiery rhythms of the gigue.
The musical evening, which the conductor and his team shared with the lucky audience (all the tickets were sold out long before the date of the concert), was distinguished by perfection and balance. If they had been musical storms, then these storms would be without onslaught, impressing not with the power of temperament, but with entrancing picturesqueness. The musicians of the orchestra Le Concert des Nations demonstrated the expressiveness and delicate virtuosity during the whole concert. All of them were reminiscent the ancient canvases, amazing modern spectators with a subtle transmission of nuances, harmony of the overall composition, and the correspondence of artistic images to high ideals.
In the morning of the concert day Jordi Savall brilliantly held on the master class to the soloists of the Moscow orchestra Pratum Integrum, which also set an inspiring mood. On the example of Georg Philipp Telemann’s Sonata for Strings and Basso Continuo (TW 44:5), the musicians comprehended the purely somatic part of the performance. Above all, Jordi Savall suggested symmetric arrangement of musicians with the basso continuo in the center, thereby aligning dialogism, which is so important for baroque music. Also they figure out the meticulous work on phrasing, bow strokes, articulation. However, there was a lot of philosophy in the observations, comments and recommendations of Jordi Savall. He reflected about the importance of those ideals, without striving for which progress in art is impossible — not only universal, but also your own daily one. There were also some witty comparisons and subtle humor (how elegant he compared non legato with cooked pasta to the state of al dente).
Many details conquered a lot in the appearance of the maestro, including that rare talent of «holistic» musician that another great authentic musician Nikolaus Harnoncourt correlated with the medieval concept of Gesamt Musiker, which was opposed to the strict autonomy of theorist and practitioner. Actually, when it was required to achieve the necessary phrasing, Jordi Savall sang expressively. To show the desired stroke, he picked up a bow. When he needed to go into the field of musical poetics, Maestro reasoned, demonstrating mastery of the word (despite the fact that he spoke English). And, maybe, was a little bit of magic mixed in with this universalism of personality? Otherwise, how to explain the alchemy of a perfect interpretation, the secrets of which Jordi Savall comprehended.
Text: Guzel Yarullina
English version: Alina Mustaeva