Jordi Savall and company spark joy with Iberian program

"Viol doyen Jordi Savall finds consistency in variety. His oldest project, the storied period-instrument band Hespèrion XXI, has been touring concerts and churning out recordings of medieval through Baroque period music for almost half a century. Whatever the niche, if it’s from between the 10th and early 18th centuries, Savall probably has a Hespèrion program for it, and if he doesn’t have it already, he could create one with little trouble. Add in his other two ventures, vocal ensemble La Capella Reial de Catalunya and Baroque orchestra Le Concert des Nations, or simply watch him play; a keen, insatiable drive to unearth and enliven the world’s ancient melodies is the thing that gets him up in the morning."

Zoë Madonna, Boston Globe
At Disney Hall, early music legend Jordi Savall shows how his Catalan roots may be ours

"That Savall is a master of an instrument long out of currency (the viol being an ancestor to the modern string family) may suggest a musician confined to a limited realm, but no one in early music has ventured as far as he has during the last half century.... In fact, Savall is most famed as an inveterate cultural campaigner."

Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times
Jordi Savall and Friends Find Bold Contrasts

"It was music director Jordi Savall himself who most embodied the interplay of light and dark in the program. His exceptional performances on the viol were radiant with virtuosity — breathtaking rapidity and range (notes octaves higher than one could imagine on the treble viol) and sparkling freedom (several wonderful pieces were improvisations with Savall in the lead and the rest of the ensemble intently supporting his inventions). And at the same time, in all of Savall’s playing we heard the dark, cantabile tone inherent to the viol as an instrument, made all the richer by his particular intensity of phrasing."

Nicholas Jones, San Francisco Classical Voice
The White Light Festival Opens With a Journey to the East

"The evening’s first half was a master-class display of everything that makes Mr. Savall and his retinue of players so indispensable."

Seth Colter Walls, New York Times
Savall Holds Sanders in Thrall

"All the mornings of the world may fade away, but Jordi Savall endures. The septuagenarian viola da gamba master once more enthralled, as a fully packed Sanders Theater last Sunday, February 24th witnessed him revisit the French Baroque repertoire he so popularized in the 1991 Alain Corneau film Tous les matins du monde."

CJ Ru, Boston Musical Intelligencer
The Critics' Choice 2018: our favourite recordings of the year

"For sheer opulence, generosity and breadth of repertoire, Jordi Savall’s ‘Venezia Millenaria’ blows the competition away this year. This journey through 1000 years of Venetian history takes in everything from popular songs and ancient chants to dances and sacred polyphony – a world in magnificent musical microcosm."

Alexandra Coghlan, Gramophone
The Routes of Slavery

“We may not know what the words mean but we feel what they mean as sound so it’s always sound first and meaning second. And the forms in which the music arrived were varied — often strophic — and had the indestructible structure of a pop song where communication is always the goal. Chants from Iberian sacred music happily co-existed and shadowed African music and vice versa.The meanings went back and forth across the stage. Operatic splendor and heartfelt intimacy co-existed.... This was an extraordinary program which brought your writer to tears which doesn’t happen all that often, but happened here big time.”


Michael McDonough, CultureVulture

"A magical musician..."

Anne Midgette, Washington Post
The genius of violist Jordi Savall, the king of early music

"The accepted belief is that Jordi Savall’s genius is in the range of the musical pilgrimages he takes audiences on. Wasn’t it 1,000 years’ worth of Venice just a concert season or so ago? Now it’s to dance-crazy Celtic areas of Scotland, Brittany and the Basque country in northern Spain for the Celtic Universe concert at Toronto’s Koerner Hall on Thursday. No sweat. To span the 400 years in some two hours chock-a-block with jigs, airs and stuff that sounds suspiciously like early rock ‘n’ roll comes as naturally to the 76-year-old Spanish viol master as hitting warp drive does to a Star Trek fleet commander."

Peter Goddard, Toronto Globe and Mail
Jordi Savall (and Bagpiper) Explore the Celtic World

"If there were no Jordi Savall, we’d all live on a musically smaller planet."

Steven Winn, San Francisco Classical Voice
The high art of transporting the past to the present

"Recreating with 'authenticity' music from before the recording era is fraught with peril. The older the music the greater the danger of misinterpreting​ notated intentions and of reverentially setting in stone what was as fluid as water. Spaniard Jordi​ Savall's​ reputation as a pre-eminent performer of early music rests on his profound understanding that the art of recreating the past is to place it in the present.

"This concert, Folias Antiguas & Criollas​ (subtitled From the Ancient World to the New World), explored the interrelationship between the folia dance form in baroque Spain and its more folkloric​ guises in the New World. It continued a decade-old collaboration between Savall's​ Hesperion​ XXI (here a quintet) and the Mexican sextet Tembembe​ Ensamble​ Continuo. It also turned a musicology lesson into often sublime entertainment."

John Shand, Sydney Morning Herald
Jordi Savall and his band of merry musicians elevate the past

"To have spent the evening with Jordi Savall is to have touched the past and been elevated by its riches.

"Savall, along with his band Hesperion XXI and the Mexican-South American Tembembe Ensamble Continuo, had the concert hall audience spellbound for more than two hours with their time-travelling repertoire."

Melanie Coram, West Australian
The year's best classical recordings

"In a year when everything seemed to become political, Jordi Savall's penetrating view of the music of 'The Routes of Slavery' (Alia Vox), an offshoot of UNESCO's 2015 Year of the Slave, drew determined attention to one of the lasting plagues of mankind. It's an early-music 'Graceland,' and every bit as solemn, involving and uplifting."

Tim Pfaff, Bay Area Reporter
Jordi Savall: Routes of Slavery

"Spanish viol master and conductor Savall has spent the better part of five decades imagining and reimagining the past through music. With over 230 albums to his credit, he is one of the most creative and imaginative musical visionaries on the global scene today. And this performance provided ample evidence of his audacious reach.

"It is remarkable indeed that such difficult subject matter could be turned into such an inventive, moving, dare I say, uplifting evening of words and music. But that is Savall’s genius. As he said in conclusion, without senses there is no memory; without memory there is no spirit; without spirit there is no justice; and without justice there is no human civilization."

The Routes of Slavery

"In contrast to the somber narrations, this was an exuberant program, splendidly performed, mixing griot (troubadour) songs from Mali, modern versions of Brazilian traditional tunes, lively dances from Mexico, and a Catholic prayer in the indigenous Mochica language of Peru. One potent pairing juxtaposed the dance 'Saí da casa,' its wave-like rhythms beautifully captured by the magnetic Brazilian soprano Maria Juliana Linhares, with a Hesperion XXI favorite, the Christmas villancico 'Antonya, Flaciquia, Gasipà,' by a 17th-century Portuguese composer/monk.'"

Heidi Waleson, Wall Street Journal
Delight Rising from the Ashes of Terror

"Just when you thought Jordi Savall had exhausted centuries, continents, religious, peoples, and music, he presented, for the final night of White Lights Festival, a typically ecumenical, gorgeously costumed, new discovery."

Harry Rolnick,
Hespèrion XXI at the Wigmore Hall

"And we shouldn’t forget Savall’s honeyed viol, sometimes serving as background drone, other times the bearer of his soul.

"The place was packed, the audience transfixed, the encores generous, the warmth enormous. Superb concerts such as this, at the Wigmore, prove that world music isn’t just for specialists and those who wear sandals in winter; it’s music for everyone in a harsh, fractured world seeking refreshment, high artistry and balm."

Geoff Brown, The Times (London)
A Musical Handshake Spanning Centuries: Venice in New York

"It was, in classic Savall style, a grab bag of tiny, exquisite pieces: aching John Dowland, stately and swirling Gioseffo Guami. And the climax, in classic Savall style, was a playful, gently swaying improvisation on a Renaissance 'canario' dance melody, building into flurries of notes frizzling off Mr. Savall’s tiny treble viol."


Zachary Woolfe, New York Times
Herspèrion XXI and Jordi Savall revel in centuries of dance music

"A packed, expectant audience greeted the world’s preeminent viola de gamba player for a highly-anticipated performance at Grace and Holy Trinity on Friday. Jordi Savall, with his extraordinary ensemble of early music specialists in Hespèrion XXI, gave an exciting, relevant concert of Renaissance and Baroque dance music ..."

Libby Hanssen, Kansas City Star
Jordi Savall and Hespèrion XXI take imaginative Venetian journey at Sanders

"As always with Savall’s ensembles, the conversation at Sanders was gracious and imaginative, and also rhythmically infectious."

Jeffrey Gantz, Boston Globe
Savall Takes Hespèrion XXI Venetian

"Jordi Savall returned to Boston at the helm of a seven-member version of his ensemble, Hespèrion XXI, delivering assorted Renaissance and Baroque dance music stretching over two centuries with a characteristic mix of meticulous research and exemplary execution."

James C.S. Liu, Boston Musical Intelligencer
Jordi Savall’s fresh take on ancient, rich sounds of a ‘Serene’ Italian city-state

"The thrill of a Savall concert is always a sense of discovery, and over the course of two-dozen short pieces, Savall and his three magnificent ensembles and his guest artists created a transportive narrative out of unfamiliar music. The performances, deeply informed by scholarship but always fresh, had all of Savall’s hallmarks: richness of color, rhythmic proportion and a joyous sense of spontaneity."

Simon Chin, Washington Post
Fanfares for a Month of Venice

"But when Mr. Savall brings together ensembles from the world of the Mediterranean, East and West, ancient and (near) modern, as he did last night, the result is overwhelming. Both in ideas and in music."

Harry Rolnick,
Musical Connections: Ancient Spain & Modern Mexico

"When the audience at the end seemed to refuse to let the performers go, they returned to the stage for one more lengthy, brilliant, rousing fandango to send everyone home in high spirits."


Steven Ledbetter, Boston Musical Intelligencer
Stirring a Musical Melting Pot

"On Friday of this sixth week of the Rockport Chamber Music Festival, Hespèrion XXI, led by the esteemed Jordi Savall, and the Mexican-based Tembembe Ensamble Continuo delivered exhilarating music inspired by the European discovery of the New World.... I was struck immediately by the mastery and presence of the ensemble, which consistently produced music that felt truly alive, and never static—one could almost feel the music itself breathe."

Teri Kowiak, Boston Musical Intelligencer
Jordi Savall Bends Time

"Only rarely does a classical musician cross the line into general celebrity these days. The situation is even less common for a performer of early music, a niche within a niche. Jordi Savall is perhaps the only example, known as a humanitarian and cultural icon as well as for his work as a conductor of early music ensembles. For a rare solo recital at the Phillips Collection on Sunday afternoon, he came only with his Barak Norman viola da gamba, built in London in 1697. With a program of outrageously obscure, mostly Baroque music, he commanded the stage with magnetic charisma."

Charles T. Downey, Ionarts
Gambist and Early Music Scholar Jordi Savall in recital, presented by CAMA Masterseries

"There is something unmistakably priestly about Jordi Savall, as was evidenced at this recital Tuesday night.... From the start, the performance was rhythmic delight, not only the ostensible pace of reels and hornpipes, but the laments and ballads that moved in surreal time flows, punctuated with lightning-strike ornaments."

Joseph Miller, Santa Barbara Independent
Jordi Savall wakes an early-music instrument from a long sleep

"There is a quality of monkish purity to Savall’s approach, yet none of the exaggerated reverence one sometimes finds in contemplation of ancient masterworks. He talked about the instrument the same way he played it: with a directness born of years of knowledge, offering one tidbit after another."

Anne Midgette, Washington Post
Jordi Savall’s Magisterial Viola da Gamba Recital at the Phillips Collection

"Early music pioneer Jordi Savall, who has spent his life and career reviving forgotten repertory and neglected instruments, offered a magisterial solo recital devoted to music for the viola da gamba at the Phillips Collection on Sunday afternoon. Performing on a seven-stringed bass viol made by Barak Norman in London in 1697, Savall brought to life an instrument whose expressive range is unequaled in the modern string family."

Simon Chin, Chin Up
Da Gamba in Celtic Lands

"Some of the pieces by Hume brought out the vintage Saval—spontaneous and soulful."

Victor Khatutsky, Boston Musical Intelligencer
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