Magazine article Gramophone

Words and Music on Savall's Celebration of Erasmus

Magazine article Gramophone

Words and Music on Savall's Celebration of Erasmus

Article excerpt

'Erasmus van Rotterdam'

'Eloge dela folie'

Highlights of 'Eloge de la folie' (in French) with 22 folies, including five new recordings and 17 pieces from 'La folia' and 'Altre folie'. Music from the time of Erasmus. Discs 4-6 contain the music of discs 1-3 without the spoken texts

Cellne Scheen, Yetza bel Arias Fernandez sops Pascal Bertin counterten Makoto Sakurada ten Stephan MacLeod bass-bar La Capella Relal de Catalunya; Le Concert des Nations/Jordi Savall

Alia Vox (S) (6) (SACD) AVSA9895 (7h 22' * DDD/DSD)

This monumental collection is a celebration of the life and impact of Erasmus, visionary of the global village ahead of his time ('The whole world is the common fatherland of all'). As a true European, it is readily apparent why such a figure would be suitable material for a project by Jordi Savall, and he himself explains the importance of Erasmus in an introduction to this luxurious collection, which is followed by no fewer than five essays--by Jean-Claude Margolain, Jean-Christophe Saladin, Hans Trapman, Ricardo Garcia Carcel and Alexandre Vanautgaerden--on various aspects of the great man's life and work.

Six SACDs are included, which are in fact two sets of three, one containing only the music chosen by Savall, the other that same music with recitations, by Louise Moaty, Marc Mauillon and Rene Zosso, of texts from the period, by Erasmus himself, Thomas More, Machiavelli and Luther. The first disc, with recitations by Moaty of texts from Erasmus's youthful work Laus stultitiae ('In Praise of Folly'), inevitably contains many versions of the folia, as well as a great variety of other music, ranging from Encina and Tobias Hume to some wonderful improvisations (as one has come to expect of Hesperion XXI), both solo and ensemble. These are of course better appreciated in themselves without the narration; but with the recited texts one listens in an entirely different way. Particularly touching is the inclusion of tracks featuring the late Montserrat Figueras; it should be said that the recordings included here are a mixture of old (some going back as far as 1988) and new. But that seems entirely appropriate for such a large-scale project, providing as it does a conspectus of Hesperion's work over along period and bringing together members past and present.

The second disc, 'Time of Reflections', exploring Erasmus's career as 'a great humanist', and the third, 'Time of Confrontations', whose title is self-explanatory, feature Marc Mauillon reading Erasmus's own words and Rene Zosso reading those of Luther, More and Machiavelli. …

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