“It is at night that it is beautiful to believe in the light.”Edmond Rostand1868-1918“Now that the sky and earth and wind are hushed, and birds and beasts are curbed by sleep, night circles in its starry chariot round, and the sea lies motionless in the deep, restless I think and burn and weep…” and the miracle is worked a thousand and one times in our hearts. Yes, thanks to the genius of poets like Francesco Petrarch, in the 21st century we are still moved by these ancient but eternally moving and evocative words. “Set to music” by Claudio Monteverdi in the magnificent Madrigal Hor che’l ciel et la terra, they are a breathtaking invocation and, thanks to the ancestral yet timeless “recitar cantando”, the mysteries which inhabit the infinity of night yield to us without resistance and reach deep into our astonished hearts to satisfy our thirst for beauty.
“It is at night that it is beautifulto believe in the light.”Edmond Rostand1868-1918“Now that the sky and earth and wind are hushed, and birds and beasts are curbed by sleep, night circles in its starry chariot round, and the sea lies motionless in the deep, restless I think and burn and weep…” and the miracle is worked a thousand and one times in our hearts. Yes, thanks to the genius of poets like Francesco Petrarch, in the 21st century we are still moved by these ancient but eternally moving and evocative words. “Set to music” by Claudio Monteverdi in the magnificent Madrigal Hor che’l ciel et la terra, they are a breathtaking invocation and, thanks to the ancestral yet timeless “recitar cantando”, the mysteries which inhabit the infinity of night yield to us without resistance and reach deep into our astonished hearts to satisfy our thirst for beauty. And again, it is the mysterious night which unreservedly embraces silence, that element which is so essential to music. It is then that night reveals to us the most secret laments, the most hidden joys and the most distant murmurs. It is then, also, that we discover the light of the moon and stars which give us a sense of our own reality in the vastness of an infinite universe. It is thanks to all of this that our thoughts grow lucid and our imagination regains its freedom, freedom to feel capable of achieving everything that our hearts desire and aspire to. “Night is the salvation of the soul”, wrote the 10th century Arab poet in one of the tales from the Arabian Nights (The Story of Nur-Ed-din and Enis-El-Jelis). Those 1001 nights, lasting almost 3 years (2 years and 271 nights, to be exact), are a magical number; they pass like a fleeting moment in our lives. Suddenly I realise that I am fortunate already to have lived more than 20 times a Thousand and One Nights. Nights of childhood, full of wonderful new discoveries, but also sad nights, haunted by the fear of war and an uncertain future. Nights of adolescence consoled by the discovery and apprenticeship of love, friendship and the warm tones of the cello. Clear nights of a spring in 1965, full of unforgettable encounters: with my ideal soul-mate, and with the viola da gamba and its forgotten music. Starry nights in the gardens of the Monastery of Pedralbes (in Barcelona) where Montserrat Figueras and I decided to embark on our journey into the future together, bound for tomorrows that were still uncertain but already brimming with confidence and hope, determined to share our joys and sorrows, music and friendships, a whole life full of paths and dreams. And it was another summer night, towards the end of July 1975 that, together with Hopkinson Smith (theorbo) and Anne Gallet (harpsichord), I made my recording debut with the music of Marin Marais’s Second Book of Pieces for the Viol, which marked the beginning of the ASTRÉE collection (created and directed by Michel Bernstein). The beautiful little Romanesque Church of Saint-Lambert des Bois in Versailles where we were recording enjoyed perfect acoustics, but its proximity to a small airport forced us to record between eight in the evening and five o’clock in the morning. Obviously, sheer fatigue and the lateness of the hour very often changed the way we perceived certain works, especially the slow movements, which in the deep silence of the night and the magical sound that filled the church, took on an extraordinarily expressive dimension. But above all, as the night wore on we would feel it necessary to compensate for our lack of physical energy, due to loss of tone and natural tiredness, with increased spiritual energy. When the body began to flag, we knew it was up to the spirit to take over. It was then that I became aware of the advantages of performing pieces such as Les Voix Humaines, the Sarabandes and the Tombeaux at night. Just a few months later, at the beginning of November 1975, thanks to the enthusiasm of the producer Gerd Berg, who directed EMI-ELEKTROLA’s new REFLEXE collection, we were invited to record a new programme of Spanish music at the Munstermuseum in Basel. The recording sessions took place on mid-winter nights in Basel, and it was our first double album featuring “The Secular Music of Christian and Jewish Spain”, with Montserrat Figueras and the musicians of HESPÈRION XX. Since then, more than twelve times 1001 nights have gone by, on which we have recorded or performed countless pieces of music, almost always in those magical hours late at night or in the small hours before dawn. In memory of them, we have selected some of the most beautiful vocal and instrumental works which are either directly or indirectly associated with night, sleep and events marking peace or mourning. We symbolically offer them to you in this “Invocation to night” as a testament to all these creative years working with ASTRÉE/AUVIDIS (1975-1996) and ALIA VOX (1998-2008). More than 140 recordings made with the total support, and also sometimes the sacrifice of extreme fatigue on the part of our sound engineers, and particularly of our singers and soloists and faithful fellow-musicians in HESPÈRION XX and XXI, LA CAPELLA REIAL DE CATALUNYA and CONCERT DES NATIONS. I would like to express to them all our sincere and profound gratitude and our heartfelt tribute for enabling so many unique moments of emotion, beauty and light to be captured for posterity. Thanks to our new project to progressively re-release on ALIA VOX HERITAGE our complete back catalogue of ASTRÉE/AUVIDIS, we are now able to share those moments with present and future generations, alongside the new recordings that we will continue to release under ALIA VOX. Edmond Rostand wrote, “It is at night that it is beautiful to believe in the light”. We firmly believe that we need that light if we are to regain a little peace in a world torn by increasingly absurd and bloodthirsty violence. With his legendary wisdom, the philosopher Raimon Panikkar (b.1918) writes, “It is very hard to live without peace in the world around us, but it is impossible to live without peace in our hearts”. The only way we have left to rediscover that peace is through love and music.JORDI SAVALLBellaterra, Night of 15th April, 2008Translated by Jacqueline Minett