Hespèrion XXI / Jordi Savall

Esprit d'Armenie

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AllMusic Review by

If you had to do without one subgroup of recording within the oeuvre of the great Catalonian gamba player Jordi Savall, you might pick the ones where he explores traditions alien to the Renaissance and to the Iberian styles in which his own music-making is rooted. That said, this one must be one of the best among that subgroup. Here Savall joins with a quartet of Armenian musicians to play melodies that are from the Armenian tradition but only in a few cases "traditional"; some have named composers from the 18th or 19th centuries, and many come from a large anthology of Armenian melodies that is itself an important part of the tradition. As usual with Savall, the 316-page booklet in seven languages (including Armenian) is a key part of the entire production; the multiple essays outline both the sources of the music and its relation to Armenia's long and tragic history. That history lends the music a distinctive melancholy tinge that will catch the ear even of those with no previous exposure; the reedy, voicelike duduk makes a fascinating counterpart to Savall's viols, and the whole takes on added significance as a memorial to Savall's longtime musical partner, Montserrat Figueras. As if in tribute to her, all the music is instrumental. Recommended for those wanting to explore this part of Savall's output.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 03:44
2 03:31
3 03:55
4 03:58
5 05:40
6 03:11
7 03:40
8 04:03
9 04:39
10 05:46
11 03:40
12 05:27
13 03:19
14 05:40
15 03:24
16 05:17
17 02:34
18 05:15
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