Every nation’s music is a reflection of the spirit of its identity, which starts off being individual, but over time is shaped into an image of a unique collective cultural space. All music transmitted and preserved through the oral tradition is the result of a happy survival, followed by a long process of selection and synthesis. Unlike certain Oriental cultures, which have evolved chiefly in the context of an oral tradition, in the West only those types of music commonly referred to as traditional or popular have survived as a result of this unwritten means of transmission.
Montserrat FiguerasFrancesc Garrigosa, Arianna Savall, Ferran SavallA. Lawrence-King, P. Memelsdorff, R. Lislevand, R. AlessandriniLa Capella Reial de CatalunyaJordi Savall
Data i lloc de gravació : Enregistraments realitzats a la Col·legiata romana del Castell de Cardona juliol del 1988 i el febrer 1990 per Maria i Michel Bernstein i Charlotte de Kéranflèc’h. Enregistra
|Llista de Temes|
1. El Cant dels Aucells2. La filadora3. El Fill del rei4. El mestre5. El comte Arnau6. Mariagneta7. Cançó del lladre8. El testament d’Amèlia9. Cançó de Bressol : Mareta no’m faces plorar10. Cançó de Bressol : La mare de Deu11. Els segadors (Romance Historique)12. Els segadors (Himne Nacional de Catalogne)
Catàleg complet, Heritage
“Song is the essence of popular art.”
The musical heritage of the thousand-year-old land of Catalonia is composed of an extraordinary body of both cultivated and popular music, a part of which is preserved in manuscript or printed sources from the 9th to the 19th centuries, while another part has been preserved by oral tradition. In our earlier recordings we have focussed largely on the former: Canços de Trobayritz (1978), El Cant de la Sibil·la (the Song of the Sibyl in Catalonia, Majorca, Valencia, Galicia, Castille, Occitania, Provence, etc.) (1988-2010), El Llibre Vermell de Montserrat (1979), music from the Montecassino (2001) and the Duke of Calabria (1996) Songbooks, the Ensaladas of Mateu Flecha (1987), the Cançons and Fantasias of Lluís de Milà (1995), the Masses of Joan Cererols (1988), the Fantasias de Joan Cabanilles (1998), the arias and operas of Vicent Martín y Soler (1991), and the songs of Ferran Sor (1991). In this recording (which brings together works recorded in 1988, 1990, 2002 and 2004) we present some of the most beautiful songs from this intangible heritage. We have selected eleven outstanding melodies, including examples of the most beautiful and representative laments, legends and lullabies, adapting them in new musical versions. The majority are performed by Montserrat Figueras, with the collaboration of Francesc Garrigosa (in Comte Arnau), Arianna Savall (in Mareta and El cant dels Aucells), Ferran Savall (in El cant dels Aucells), and, finally, with La Capella Reial de Catalunya (in Els Segadors), as well as a few other pieces performed as instrumental versions by the soloists of Hespèrion XX.
Every nation’s music is a reflection of the spirit of its identity, which starts off being individual, but over time is shaped into an image of a unique collective cultural space. All music transmitted and preserved through the oral tradition is the result of a happy survival, followed by a long process of selection and synthesis. Unlike certain Oriental cultures, which have evolved chiefly in the context of an oral tradition, in the West only those types of music commonly referred to as traditional or popular have survived as a result of this unwritten means of transmission. «Of all the various manifestations of popular art, song is undoubtedly the one with the greatest ethnic and psychological value; through it may be glimpsed and studied the most profound and unplumbed manifestations of the soul of a people», wrote the eminent folklorist Joan Amades in his foreword to his 1935 anthology entitled Cançons populars, amoroses i cavalleresques which were collected between 1918 and 1922. «Popular song is the amazing work of all the people who experience and sing it: it belongs to everybody and to nobody in particular, everybody makes it his own and, changing and adapting it according to his own taste and understanding; and each one is free to change and put his own stamp on it because everybody is the legitimate owner of the song, while nobody can claim absolute ownership of it.» Poetry and music, two of the most sublime spiritual values, come together in song to form a unique art full of emotion and beauty, born out of necessity, and often out of an urgent need for comfort and human and spiritual warmth. An art form which acts as a truly indispensable balm for solitude, the loss of love, tragedy and all those moments in our lives when we need to find a little inner peace and harmony in the midst of our daily surroundings, as well as being a source of joy and happy collective celebration of key moments in our lives.
Music is the language of the soul, and as such it is the primary language of human beings. The newborn child, long before he can speak or understand any language, before he can comprehend the meaning of the first words his mother speaks to him, immediately grasps the full dimension of her love, thus receiving his first lesson in what it means to be human through his mother’s tenderness and the way she sings the words of her lullaby. This is possible because musical sound has direct access to the soul, where it immediately finds a resonance, because, as Goethe says, «Man carries music within him.»
Live music only exists in the instant in which it is manifested in the form of sound waves produced by the human voice or instruments, and it is precisely this limitation which makes it at once the most human and the most spiritual de totes les arts. Because of this, music is one of the most universal means of expression and communication, and the measure of its importance and significance is not determined according to the criteria of the evolution of language – in the sense of history and progress – but in terms of its degree of expressive intensity, inner richness and humanity. These are two of the most significant triumphs of 20th century philosophy of art, as witnessed by the formidable recovery and presence in our daily lives of the music of other periods and, increasingly, of other civilizations.
The invention of musical notation, a phenomenon frequently linked to literary social circles, has enabled certain cultures, such as those of China, Korea, Japan and Western Europe, to develop, from ancient times, numerous systems de notation applicable in a wide variety of situations. On the contrary, other cultures, such as those of Middle Eastern countries (except Turkey) and South and South-West Asia, scarcely developed such systems, at least until a century ago. In the world of the “cultivated” music of Western Europe, musical communication based on unwritten forms survived until the end of the 17th century, albeit only in the context of practices associated with improvisation and the execution of bass continuo accompaniments, and later with circles of musical creation, always linked to the institutions of spiritual and worldly power (Church and Court), from the 17th century (England) and above all in the 19th century (Germany) to eminently bourgeois circles. Musical writing allowed a formidable development to take place in musical forms and instruments, but at the same time it contributed to all those forms of live music that are the daily accompaniment to the lives of the vast majority of people, in other words, popular music, becoming relegated to oblivion and to a status of secondary importance.
That is why the popular music of “Catalunya Mil·lenaria”, the thousand-year-old land of Catalonia, constitutes an exceptional case in Western Europe. It is one of the richest and most beautiful of all the living musical traditions of our time. The thousands of lullabies, working songs, laments and legends preserved in the various oral traditions, lovingly and perseveringly handed down from mothers and fathers to their sons and daughters from one generation to the next, are in fact true musical survivors, for they are all music which has had the privilege and, from our point of view, the good fortune, to survive the inevitable and constant cultural amnesia and the globalising delusions of mankind. The present recording is a fervent tribute to all those who have contributed with their love and perseverance to keeping this music alive and making it accessible to us all. Europe’s extraordinarily rich cultural and musical heritage is the result of the great diversity of cultures and languages that live side by side in our common geographical space. Preserving this cultural diversity is an essential means to promoting respect for difference and intercultural dialogue. In the words of Amin Maalouf, «Diversity is not necessarily a prelude to adversity.» On the contrary, it is obvious that the more beauty we can share, the greater our chances will be of embracing the future in a spirit of harmony and respect, because, to quote Dostoevski, «we are convinced that beauty will save the world.»
Bellaterra, February, 2011
Translated by Jacqueline Minett