Jordi Savall at Carnegie Hall
Taxi Driver: Where to?
Female Passenger: Carnegie Hall, please.
Female Ticket Agent: Here are your tickets. Enjoy the show.
Female Usher: Your tickets, please? Follow me.
Jeff Spurgeon: Among the aims, and the mission statement of the Carnegie Hall Organization in New York City are to present extraordinary music and musicians, and to bring the transformative power of music to the widest possible audience. This program, Carnegie Hall Live is one of the ways those aims are reached. We bring to you, listening on the radio or online in New York, across the country, or around the world, great music revealed in all its power to uplift, challenge, and connect us in performances by some of the best artists on the planet.
I'm Jeff Spurgeon. For the next two hours, through a Carnegie Hall concert of 2017, we are going back much farther in time. Our guide on this journey is Jordi Savall, one of the world's leading figures in the field of early music. A viola da gamba virtuoso, a conductor, concert programmer, and researcher whose performances are unique and filled with a wonderful spirit. With Savall and his musicians, we are going to visit La Serenissima, the most serene Republic of Venice.
Jordi Savall: Well, this concert is in fact, a musical evocation of incredible history from one of the most special cities in the world, Venice. The history goes from the starting of the city around 770 when some Byzantine people in Northern Italy and their escape to the end of the Republic of Venice in 1794 when the troops of Napoleon arrive and finish the Republic.
Jeff Spurgeon: We are going to explore more than 1,000 years of musical history of Venice. A great port city where trade connected Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. The music of those cultures was traded too, as you will hear. Three of Savall's ensembles share the Carnegie Hall stage. The early music band, Hespèrion XXI, the Baroque Orchestra, Le Concert des Nations, and the choir, La Capella Reial de Catalunya. Probably the most unique musical feature in this program is another group of singers Savall found in Greece. The Orthodox-Byzantine Vocal Ensemble, whose ancient traditions evoke the sound of the early years of the Venetian Republic.
The wide variety of instruments you will hear includes, the Qanun, a kind of Middle Eastern zither, the duduk, an Armenian double reed instrument, the santur, a hammered dulcimer of ancient Mesopotamia, and the cornet, and the shofar, and the psaltery, and the harp, and lutes, and theorbos, and more. Jordi Savall, and his musicians present works from across the 1,000-year history of La Serenissima. A sold-out audience in Carnegie Hall's Isaac Stern Auditorium heard these performances in 2017. We're bringing them to you now just as they were broadcast then, from Carnegie Hall Live.
[MUSIC - ANON. Calling of the Bells and Fanfare]
[MUSIC - JOHN OF DAMASCUS "Alleluia"]
[MUSIC - ANON. Erotokritos]
[MUSIC - MARCABRU "Pax in nomine Domini!"]
[MUSIC - TRADITIONAL Dance of the Soul, from the North African Berber Ritual]
[MUSIC - ANON. Ton Dhespotin, from the Sunday Service of Orthros]
[MUSIC - TRADITIONAL Armenian Song and Dance]
[MUSIC - CONDUCTUS "O totius Asie Gloria"]
[MUSIC - ANON. "Pasan tin elpida mou"]
[MUSIC - ANON. Chiave, chiave]
[MUSIC - ANON. Adoramus te, from the Mass Proper]
[MUSIC - ANON. "Tin dheisin mou"]
[MUSIC - TRAITIONAL Nikriz]
[MUSIC - DUFAY "O tres piteulx" / "Omnes amici eius"]
[MUSIC - JANEQUIN Escoutez tous gentilz" (La bataille de Marignan; La guerre)]
Jeff Spurgeon: You've just heard several 100 years of musical history from early music master, Jordi Savall and his ensembles, Hespèrion XXI, Le Concert des Nations, and the choir, La Capella Reial de Catalunya, performed in Carnegie Hall live. We're exploring in music, La Serenissima, The Most Serene Republic of Venice, formed around 700AD and ended just before 1800. In the last work we heard, we came into more familiar classical music territory.
That was Clément Janequin's, The battle of Marignan, a depiction of a terrible 16th century conflict in which a stalemate between French and Swiss forces was broken by the arrival of troops from Venice, who gave the French a decisive victory, cementing their position as a major power broker in Europe at that time. Janequin was famous for music depicting birdsong and battles. Some of both is in that last work beautifully performed by Savall's musicians.
Credit also to the Orthodox-Byzantine Vocal Ensemble from Greece. Byzantine, Armenian, Ottoman, even North African, as well as European influences were present in the music Jordi Savall used to tell the story of Venice. There are 250 more years of that history yet to share in more familiar sounding music by composers we associate with Venice, including Monteverde and one of the greatest of its native sons, Vivaldi. All of that is moments away in the second half of this program, featuring Jordi Savall and his musicians. This is Carnegie Hall Live.
Jordi Savall: One important thing in the music, we can reply. We can reply with music and then, when we sing and we play with emotion, we share our emotions with other people and then this is a principal quality of the music to be a human language.
Jeff Spurgeon: That is Jordi Savall and some of the essence of his mission in reviving and exploring early music from around the world. We are in the midst of Savall's musical exploration of the more than 1000 years of La Serenissima, the most serene Republic of Venice, that began around the year 700 and lasted until 1797. In the first half of the program, we sailed through about 800 years of Venice history. Now, we'll scan another 250, starting with a 1526 piece by Salamone Rossi, a Jewish composer prominent in his time in nearby Mantua.
He was one of the few Western composers of his day who set Old Testament texts in Hebrew. That is the language in which we will hear Psalm 137 By the Rivers of Babylon, sung by four members of Jordi Savall's La Capella Reial de Catalunya, continuing our presentation of his concert by Savall and a complement of musicians from more than 40 countries performed in 2017 and broadcast then as now from Carnegie Hall Live.
[MUSIC - Salomone Rossi: Al Naharot Bavel from Hashirim asher lish'lomo]
[MUSIC - Salomone Rossi: Al Naharot Bavel (Psalm 137, By the Rivers of Babylon)]
Jeff Spurgeon: Applause for a performance in Carnegie Hall by Jordi Savall's musicians. Now Claudio Monteverdi's operatic scene, Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda first performed in 1624 in the home of one of Monteverdi's Venice patrons. It was performed in 2017 in a concert of music exploring the more than 1,000 years of La Serenissima, the Most Serene Republic of Venice. That concert continues now as it was first broadcast on this program, from Carnegie Hall Live.
[MUSIC - Monteverdi: Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda]
Jeff Spurgeon: From Carnegie Hall in New York, you've just heard Jordi Savall conducting musicians of his three ensembles in a celebration of La Serenissima, The Most Serene Republic of Venice. A musical journey conceived by Savall and first broadcast from Carnegie Hall live in 2017. Jordi Savall played the viola da gamba and supervised performances by his early music ensemble, Hespèrion XXI.
His baroque orchestra, Le Concert des Nations, the singers of his La Capella Reial de Catalunya, and the Orthodox-Byzantine vocal ensemble from Greece, musicians from more than 40 countries in one concert. Performers from many countries and music from many centuries, reflecting the history of the Republic of Venice from its beginning in the 8th Century to its end by Napoleon's troops in the late 18th.
A wide-angle view of history through music. As Savall himself has said, "One of the reasons we must have music is that it brings us hope. Music tells us where we came from and asks us to go forward together." The responses Savall and his musicians received from the audience in Carnegie Hall showed that everyone there celebrated that message. We hope you felt some of that celebratory spirit too. I'm Jeff Spurgeon. Carnegie Hall Live is a production of WQXR in New York.
New York Public Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline, often by contractors. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of New York Public Radio’s programming is the audio record.