- Francicso Javier: La Ruta de Oriente, historical readings and music
Francisco Javier - La Ruta de Oriente [Hybrid SACD]by Jordi Savall
This release by Catalonian leader Jordi Savall and his usual varied band of collaborators looks, from the size of its hardback "booklet," to have made a quantum leap over previous Savall releases. And so it has -- in terms of the musical tradtions that appear; the two-disc set features Indian, east African, and Japanese musicians in addition to Savall's own group, La Capella Reial de Catalunya. In other ways, though, the album is of a piece with recent Savall releases imagining the music surrounding a celebrated voyage of the early Renaissance era -- one of which presented the music that would have accompanied or greeted Christopher Columbus. Savall's subject here is nearly as notorious as Columbus: Francisco Javier was a missionary, and a founding member of the Jesuit order, who traveled all over the known world in his campaign of conversion. The 49 tracks here constitute something of a musical biography. Each piece or small group of them is linked to a specific episode in Javier's life, beginning with his early childhood in Navarra and running to his encounters with Japan and China. Savall's method is to first obtain a great depth of background knowledge and then use that background knowledge as raw material for sheer speculation. Using a scrap of chant, "O gloriosa domina," as a unifying motif, he imagines how it might have sounded had it been taken up by native musicians, relying sometimes on preexisting sources, sometimes on intuition. And he lets his non-Western musicians improvise on Western melodic materials, something that definitely happened in other contexts even if it hasn't really been documented in the situations represented here. The balance between music and booklet text is altered here as compared with other Savall releases; the page count of the booklet is boosted by the inclusion of deep background such as all 95 of the theses Martin Luther nailed to the door at Wittenberg. That background, ironically, vastly overshadows the material devoted to Javier himself, and the link between background material and music is less secure here than in other Savall releases. Put it all together in five langauges (Spanish, English, French, German, and Catalan), and the book weighs in at an impressive 272 pages, with plenty of color plates. The performances themselves are especially luminous, however, and whole fulfills the daring ambitions of its conception -- to speculatively evoke the musical component of a missionary's trip around the world. Alia Vox's sound engineering, always top-notch, exceeds its own standards here with a subtly shifting aesthetic as the music moves from church (quietly resonant) to castle (more intimate and detailed). Another absorbing release from a performer who is redefining the musical representation of the European Renaissance.
- Release Date:
- Alia Vox Spain
Performance CreditsJordi Savall Primary Artist
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