Listen: Jordi Savall and Le Concert des Nations Live From Carnegie Hall
Jeff Spurgeon: In New York City, there are lots of ways to get to Carnegie Hall; the subway, a taxi, a walk down 57th Street. You have just found another way to get to America's most famous home for classical music. Welcome to Carnegie Hall Live. This broadcast series brings you Carnegie Hall concerts by some of the world's most celebrated artists, and you hear the performances exactly as they happen. You are part of the audience, sharing the experience of music-making at Carnegie Hall.
Jeff Spurgeon: I'm Jeff Spurgeon.
Clemency B-H: And I'm Clemency Burton-Hill. In this concert, we are going to take a fabulous musical trip back in time to 17th and 18th Century France, and we have one of the best guides in the world for such a journey: Jordi Savall, the Catalan master of the viol, that deeply expressive stringed instrument of the Renaissance and early Baroque era.
Clemency B-H: Savall is one of the world's best players of the viol, no doubt about that, but he's not just a virtuoso, is he, Jeff?
Jeff Spurgeon: That's exactly right. Savall has founded three instrumental and vocal ensembles, he's made more than 230 albums of early music repertoire, and he's dusted off and brought back to life hundreds of lost, forgotten, and unknown pieces of music from centuries past.
Jeff Spurgeon: Jordi Savall is a performer, an impresario, and a scholar. He's really one of the most musical people on the entire planet.
Clemency B-H: He and his colleagues have explored works ranging from great symphonies of the 1800's to melodies passed from player to player long before there was any way to write them down. He has performed music by the famous names of Europe and by many anonymous composers, too. Some of the sounds in those works can be traced right back to the ancient world.
Jeff Spurgeon: And what's so amazing about Jordi Savall is this: his field of study and performance is so broad and so deep, but his performances are so immediate and so intimate, as you're about to hear from Carnegie Hall Live when Savall and five colleagues from his ensemble, Le Concert des Nations, bring you music that increased Savall's fame quite a bit when he played it on a film soundtrack more than 25 years ago.
Clemency B-H: And that was a French film called Tous le Matins du Monde, which is usually translated as All the Mornings of the World. The movie tells the story of two great masters of the viol in the time of Louis XIV.
Clemency B-H: One of them is Marin Marais, who played at the French court and worked there for Jean-Baptiste Lully. The other is Marais' teacher, Jean de Sainte-Colombe, though until recently, he was just known as Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe. His first name was mostly a mystery for a very long time.
Clemency B-H: We're going to hear tonight works by Marais, by Sainte-Colombe, by Lully, and by other composers of their time as Jordi Savall returns to the music of All the Mornings of the World at Carnegie Hall Live.
Jordi Savall: Before this film, the Baroque music was, most of the concerts was in small halls, 300 persons, 200. This repertory was not very popular. A small group of fans in France, in Germany, in England, but always very special.
Jordi Savall: The moment the film Tous le Matins du Monde comes in the cinema, that was a total change, because this film was being seen by million of people.
Jeff Spurgeon: Jordi Savall, talking about the impact upon music education, and the understanding of early classical music that was made by that film, Tous les Matins du Monde.
Jeff Spurgeon: Carnegie Hall Live is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support for WQXR is provided in part by the Howard Gilman Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council.
Jeff Spurgeon: Carnegie Hall Live is supported by Macy's, committed to helping communities through supportive education in the arts, health and wellness, and the environment. More information at Macys.com/macysgives.
Clemency B-H: Now, we warmly invite you to join the Carnegie Hall Live conversation tonight on social media. On Twitter, you can use the hashtag CHLive, and do please tell us where you're listening from. And follow us on Instagram at WQXR_classical for backstage photos and much more.
Jeff Spurgeon: And speaking of backstage, that's where Clemency and I are right now, with most of the members of this ensemble. And in fact, just coming down the stairs now is Jordi Savall himself, joined by five members of Le Concert des Nations. In this performance, violinist Manfredo Kraemer has been Savall's concert master in Le Concert des Nations for a long time; he flutist Charles Zebley; another viol player, Philippe Pierlot from Belgium; the theorbo player, Daniel Swenberg, and harpsichordist Luca Guglielmi.
Jeff Spurgeon: And so, those are the musicians. They're all just a few feet away from us, and they're going to be on the stage of Carnegie's Zankel Hall in just a moment, playing some of Jean-Baptiste Lully's dances written for Mogliere's Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, The Middle Class Aristocrat. Premiered in 1670 at the French Palace at Chambord, a great big production then.
Clemency B-H: After that, Jordi Savall and Philippe Pierlot will play some of the music of Jean de Sainte-Colombe, from a set of works for two equal viols, as the composer put it. Then, they'll play a work Sainte-Colombe called The Return.
Jeff Spurgeon: Then, an anonymous song with some fantasies based on it by the composer Eustache du Caurroy, the composer from furthest back in time on this program, the last half of the 1500's.
Clemency B-H: And the first half of the concert concludes with music by Marin Marais, including his most famous composition, The Bells of St. Genevieve, which is a sort of duet for the violin and the viol.
Jeff Spurgeon: The musicians are all onstage now at Zankel Hall at Carnegie, taking their places and we're getting ready... for the tuning, which is always a big part of early music concerts involving these stringed instruments, with their gut strings that are very susceptible to changes in the atmosphere.
Jeff Spurgeon: And so, it'll be a moment or two, but then the music will begin, from Carnegie Hall Live.
Jeff Spurgeon: A set of dances from Jean-Baptiste Lully's Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, played by Jordi Savall and Le Concert des Nations for the stage at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall.
Jeff Spurgeon: Now, a couple of the musicians are coming offstage, and we will turn next to music of Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe for a piece of music that involves just two viol players. So, on the stage now, Jordi Savall and Philippe Pierlot to play some of this music of the somewhat mysterious composer of the generation before Marin Marais, his teacher, Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe.
Jeff Spurgeon: The Return is what you've just heard, the music of Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe, coming to you from Carnegie Hall Live from the broadcasts featuring Jordi Savall and his musicians of Le Concert des Nations.
Jeff Spurgeon: That was a duet, one of Sainte-Colombe's duets, performed with viol player Philippe Pierlot. And now, coming back on to the stage are the rest of the members of this ensemble, and we'll be hearing next a very old melody. We don't know who composed Une Jeune Fillette, A Young Girl, but the fantasies that will follow it are by Eustache du Caurroy, who is a composer from the early part of the 1600's. Forgive me, the 1500's. He died in 1609. So, this is the earliest music that we'll hear on this program from Jordi Savall and Le Concert des Nations.
Jeff Spurgeon: And once again, Clemency, they're tuning away!
Clemency B-H: They certainly are. It's a rather musical experience, though, the tuning, isn't it? I could sit and listen to the tuning of these instruments. I was thinking, Jeff, this is music, that we just heard, that was only discovered in the 1960's. It's so ancient and so timeless, and it's being, as if recreated in live, conversational form here. It's so special to watch an ensemble like this do what they do.
Clemency B-H: Music from the late 1600's, Eustache du Caurroy; that was selections from his fantasy on Une Jeune Fillette, as Jeff said. Une Jeune Fillette's an anonymous piece, we don't know who wrote it, but numerous composers liked to riff on it.
Jeff Spurgeon: Next, we have on this concert by Jordi Savall and his musicians, music now by Marin Marais, the great master of the viola da gamba. Two viol players onstage now, along with continuo provided by harpsichord and theorbo. And once again, the tuning, and I have to once again quote my late beloved friend LaNoue Davenport, who said once that if it weren't for the tuning of the viols, the Renaissance would have been 200 years shorter. And we're seeing that lesson applied tonight here at Carnegie Hall, because of these gut-stringed instruments. They just go out of tune quickly and have to be reset, but we're about to hear music by Marin Marais.
Jeff Spurgeon: Music of Marin Marais from Carnegie Hall Live, from Zankel Hall at Carnegie, a performance by Jordi Savall and members of Le Concert des Nations, playing music of Marin Marais, who wrote more than 600 works for the viola da gamba, the viol. There were two of them played here by Savall and by Philippe Pierlot, with harpsichord and theorbo, as well.
Jeff Spurgeon: And now, the stage door is open, and we're going to hear the concluding work from the first half of this concert, a most famous work by Marin Marais, The Bells of St. Genevieve.
Clemency B-H: Yeah, this is a devilishly difficult piece. He was in his late sixties when he wrote it, but it evokes the sounds of the bells of the ancient abbey in the Paris neighborhood where he grew up. And Manfredo Kraemer, Savall's long-term concert master, has just walked onto the stage at Zankel Hall here at Carnegie. He's running those two viols, the harpsichord, and theorbo, that magnificent instrument. It's a sort of oversized lute. Incredibly difficult to play, and rather complicated, I'm told, by theorbo players that I know.
Jeff Spurgeon: And it can't be fun to take on the subway, either. It's about six and a half feet long. So, they're tuning up we'll get these Bells started ringing.
Clemency B-H: The Sonnerie de Sainte-Geneviève du Mont de Paris, music by Marin Marais. He was born in 1656; he was in his late sixties, as I said, when he wrote that. He wasn't performing himself by that stage, perhaps because it was so fiendishly difficult to hear what we've just heard, Jordi Savall and the Concert des Nations make a very light work of, indeed. They are the absolute world experts in this type of music, bringing it alive for us. Very enthusiastic and warm reaction from Zankel Hall here at Carnegie Hall.
Jeff Spurgeon: Musicians filing slowly offstage, but I am guessing that the crowd may call them back, unless they just absolutely want to start this intermission, which they just might. We've heard the first half of this concert with Jordi Savall and his musicians, returning to music that Savall first performed on recorded medium about 25 years ago, the soundtrack for the movie Tous les Matins du Monde, All the Mornings of the World.
Jeff Spurgeon: And that is a recording and a film which interested a great number of people in music of the French Baroque. And Savall and his musicians are back here at Carnegie Hall tonight as part of a tour in which they are re-exploring some of this fabulous music, mostly from the era of Louis XIV. And we are pleased to welcome to the microphones at Carnegie Hall Live the flutist who has been performing with Jordi Savall this evening, Charles Zebley. Do I have that correct?
Charles Zebley: Yeah. You can also say Charles.
Clemency B-H: But we love to hear Jeff give a little French flourish! He's wearing his Breton stripes, as well.
Jeff Spurgeon: You are French and American?
Charles Zebley: That's right. It happens.
Jeff Spurgeon: Can you tell us... Yeah.
Charles Zebley: It's just an accident of birth.
Jeff Spurgeon: And does one grow up with a desire to play the transverse flute to Baroque flute? How did you find your way to this slightly unusual instrument, the earlier version of the flute?
Charles Zebley: Well, really, it came from two things. The repertoire itself, trying to play the Bach sonatas, the nice French 18th Century music on the modern instrument is somehow difficult, laborious, and...
Jeff Spurgeon: I thought the modern things made it easier. Isn't that the story?
Charles Zebley: Well, they do improve. The instrument is more equal. This instrument is more primitive, but it's precisely these primitive characteristics that make the music speak more eloquently, in my humble opinion.
Clemency B-H: You're holding this wonderful instrument, and tell listeners who might not be aware of the real differences between what you're playing tonight and a more modern one.
Charles Zebley: Oh, well, this is a... Well, the first most obvious thing is, it's made of wood; ebony, in this case. It's conical, which means that the diameter is wider at the head joint and narrower down at the foot. Whereas the modern flute is cylindrical and has lots of keys and mechanism, and is generally made of silver, platinum, gold or whatever other...
Jeff Spurgeon: So, you were a flutist from the start. I wonder if people go from recorder, and then...
Charles Zebley: Yes, they do.
Jeff Spurgeon: Because the transverse flute, the only reason we call it transverse is you hold it sideways, but that was the difference between the recorder and the flute. I'm making the gestures which no one accept you and Clemency can see...
Charles Zebley: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah, yes, very gracefully.
Jeff Spurgeon: Thank...
Clemency B-H: We're enjoying them, Jeff, thank you.
Jeff Spurgeon: Thank you. But you began with the flute.
Charles Zebley: Yeah.
Jeff Spurgeon: So, you never went through the recorder phase.
Charles Zebley: Well, yeah, I have to confess, I also went through the recorder phase. You know, because I was just generally attracted to the earlier instruments. And then it was the 1970's; I betrayed my age; and it was kind of a novelty. I was probably the third or fourth American who studied with Bart Kuijken in the Hague, who was by then already recognized as the supreme master of the instrument. He had already made a few important recordings. And it was really a movement in those days.
Jeff Spurgeon: Can you tell us a little bit about working with Jordi Savall?
Charles Zebley: Well, it's... he's my boss, but...
Jeff Spurgeon: Well-
Charles Zebley: I can say-
Jeff Spurgeon: I understand you have to say nice things about him, but beyond that.
Charles Zebley: Well, it's a privilege in that, beyond his musical dimension, there's a humanistic and even political dimension to the man. You may know some of his books, and some of his projects that are always very involved with history and...
Clemency B-H: He comes to mind as a man of our time. There's a wonderful quote, that he "testifies to a common cultural inheritance of infinite variety," and I love that in his approach to music-making, that it is of infinite variety and yet, at its heart is this conviction, this belief that [inaudible 00:15:25] infinitely more powerful than what divides us, and that feels ever more important, despite the fact that you're playing very ancient music in some ways.
Clemency B-H: And I loved something he said earlier this evening, that there's no such thing as ancient music, there's only ancient scores. Could you perhaps tell us what it's like to bring alive in 2019, here in New York City, music that is hundreds and hundreds of years old?
Charles Zebley: Well, whether it's in New York City or in a freezing cold monastery somewhere in the Catalonian Pyrenees, it's always very time-consuming, and it's on its own rhythm, and on his rhythm.
Charles Zebley: I also remember sometimes receiving scores or parts, back in the days of the fax, they would come rolling in on fax paper from some museum or other, or library, important library, and the way we did, for instance, when we recorded the symphony of Arriaga, the Basque Mozart, as he's sometimes called, because he died very young...
Charles Zebley: Well, I mean, we were just getting the music in the way that I described, and so, yeah, it's always a voyage of discovery.
Jeff Spurgeon: That's wonderful. And for those of you who are listening and don't understand what Mr. Zebley said when he spoke about faxes, just ask your mother, or your grandmother, and they can tell you about that ancient technology, as well.
Jeff Spurgeon: Charles Zebley, French and American and a part of Le Concert des Nations with Jordi Savall. Thank you so much for talking with us.
Charles Zebley: It's a pleasure.
Jeff Spurgeon: And we'll look forward to hearing you in the second half of this concert.
Charles Zebley: Thank you.
Jeff Spurgeon: Thank you so much. It is indeed intermission here at Carnegie Hall, this concert by Jordi Savall and his musicians. We're going to spend a little time now with another composer's music. We didn't want to stray on this broadcast too far away from these early music sounds, but we also didn't want to play what you're going to hear otherwise tonight.
Jeff Spurgeon: So, we thought, excuse me, we thought we'd bring you some Bach on another instrument of this era, and that is the clavichord, invented in the early 14th Century. It was a keyboard instrument, it didn't get used in performance a lot because it doesn't make a lot of sound. But it was used a lot in the home, and it's a very special sound, and perhaps you haven't heard it, so we're going to share with you some Bach on the clavichord now.
Jeff Spurgeon: Music on clavichord. When I first heard about the instrument, I mixed it up with my collarbone, and then discovered it was something else completely. Do you ever play a clavichord, Clemency Burton-Hill?
Clemency B-H: I have never played a clavichord, Jeff, much to my sadness. I think it sounds rather charming, and...
Jeff Spurgeon: Well, it's very sweet, and what you can't hear on the radio is that it sounds very much like a harpsichord, but in fact, it makes a much smaller sound, and part of the reason it was popular is that harpsichords, well, they can't be turned down, and a clavichord had some sensitivity about it in terms of loud and soft. The piano replaced it, became much more skilled at that, but it is a sweet sound from the era of music that we are listening to tonight in this Carnegie Hall Live broadcast from Zankel Hall.
Jeff Spurgeon: I am Jeff Spurgeon. Clemency Burton-Hill is here alongside with me, and we have more performances to look forward to from Jordi Savall and Le Concert des Nations.
Clemency B-H: Carnegie Hall Live is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, on the web at Arts.gov. And by Macy's, committed to helping communities through support of education and the arts, health and wellness, and the environment. More information at Macys.com/macysgives.
Jeff Spurgeon: Additional support for WQXR is provided in part by the Howard Gilman Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council.
Jeff Spurgeon: You're invited to join the Carnegie Hall Live online conversation on Twitter, hashtag CHLive; please, tell us where you're listening from, too. And you can follow us on Instagram using WQXR_classical. You'll find backstage photos and more there.
Jeff Spurgeon: This is Classical New York, 105.9 FM at HD, WQXR Newark and 90.3 FM WQXW Ossining. This is Carnegie Hall Live.
Speaker 5: Well, I play the lute but only as an amateur, not a professional.
Speaker 6: I'm an amateur harpsichordist. I'm more interested in the music from 1580 to 1630, Italian music. I just play for myself, just for fun.
Speaker 7: Jordi Savall, he's just wonderful. He's in a class by himself.
Speaker 8: Hearing Jordi Savall singing... He doesn't sing as far as I know!
Speaker 9: I am looking forward to this delicious program of music, and the fact that Jordi Savall is involved with this doesn't hurt.
Speaker 10: Jordi Savall and his band-
Speaker 11: The intensity of it, and the range of voices. I love history, so, I feel like I can relate to-
Speaker 12: When the music is performed properly, what may seem simple becomes incredibly complex, and almost romantic. The fact that it's Jordi Savall is a nice little bonus.
Speaker 13: Early music, the instruments are so... primitive is not the right word. They're basic. They're not with all the bells and whistles and electronics, and so on and so forth. And yet, the music that comes out of it is so original, so pleasing to the ears. That's why I like.
Speaker 14: Of course, there is some intellectual side to it, but it is also very easy to understand, to grasp.
Speaker 13: I can't use the technical words, because I don't have technical training, but it just connects to my heart. That's basically what it is, yeah.
Clemency B-H: Concertgoers at Carnegie Hall this evening; he certainly draws his fans, his ardent, devoted followers. Jordi Savall and Le Concert des Nations. We're listening to a concert performed live by them this evening. And Jordi Savall told the Carnegie audience before the concert tonight that, of all the composers we're hearing in this program, Jean de Sainte-Colombe was not exactly professional. He mostly played at home.
Jordi Savall: Well, Sainte-Colombe was an amateur, was a very good amateur musician, and probably a good improvisor. The concerts that we play tonight, they are probably the result of a certain process of improvisation, because in this time, one of the most important things in the making music was the capacity to improvise. And I think the character of the music from Sainte-Colombe is like improvisation with two great musicians, like we do today with jazz or with other music.
Jordi Savall: Because his music, it's very surprising. It's very fantasy. And I think this makes proof, [inaudible 00:22:21], he was a great improviser, and a very good amateur composer.
Jeff Spurgeon: Jordi Savall, talking about Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe. In the film, that is in part the reason for this concert, Tous les Matins du Monde, Sainte-Colombe is not seen as an amateur at all, but Jordi Savall says that, in fact, is what he was. And a great improviser, indeed, as you've just heard.
Jeff Spurgeon: The second half of this concert will include music by Couperin and Rameau and Sainte-Colombe, Marais, and Leclair. And the film, based on a book, not a true story but one thing we know is that Marin Marais was a student of Colombe for a certain period of time, and Jordi Savall told the audience here at Zankel that Marais was known to spy on Le Colombe to learn his techniques.
Jordi Savall: Sainte-Colombe was always practicing in his small cabin [inaudible 00:23:14], and he goes under the cabin to listen, these exercise, and understand how to do this [inaudible 00:23:24]. Later, when Sainte-Colombe has discovered that his student is doing so [inaudible 00:23:33], he becomes to be suspicious.
Jordi Savall: And one day, after he was playing, and then go quick and discover Marin Marais.
Jeff Spurgeon: Like a spy!
Jordi Savall: And of course, I think this was the end of the lessons.
Jeff Spurgeon: Jordi Savall; he's talking about Marin Marais who, in fact, did spy on his teacher, Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe, who had built a little hut on his property, and he went there to play and practice the viol, the viola da gamba, privately so he wouldn't be interrupted. And he was snuck up on by that great student of his, Marin Marais.
Clemency B-H: We heard him in conversation earlier this evening with Jeremy Geffen, Senior Director and Artistic Advisor here at Carnegie Hall. This is Carnegie Hall Live on WQXR. The second half of this program begins with pieces by François Couperin, who was also known as Couperin the Great. He needed to be distinguished because he was part of a family filled with musicians, including his father. He was also a composer, organist, and harpsichordist as well as his uncle, Louis Couperin.
Clemency B-H: Couperin the Great, born in Paris in 1668. He was a harpsichordist as well as a composer, and he was organist of the Royal Chapel. So, he composed huge amounts of sacred and secular music, mostly intended for the musicians of the King's chamber, and he wrote in his first collection of royal concerts, from some which we'll hear this evening, that the music was for "the little chamber concerts where Louis XIV bade me come nearly every Sunday of the year."
Clemency B-H: I would love to have been in those Sunday concerts!
Jeff Spurgeon: Yeah.
Clemency B-H: I think about this era in history, and the idea that your ruler was as passionately obsessed with music as Louis XIV was, and we can but dream, really.
Jeff Spurgeon: We're backstage at Zankel Hall at Carnegie; the musicians of Le Concert des Nations are, I think, just pretty much awaiting a cue. It looks like they're ready to go, and the house is dark now. The stage lights are up, and indeed, the stage door has opened.
Jeff Spurgeon: And out they go, these six amazing performers of early music, although Jordi Savall is going to disabuse us of that term tonight. It's not early music, it's early scores; the music is brand new, fresh, and vital as it's made. And now, Maestro Savall has joined the rest of his band onstage, and we are going to hear music of François Couperin.
Jeff Spurgeon: About from this six-member ensemble: Manfredo Kraemer, Charles Zebley, Philippe Pierlot, and Daniel Swenberg, and Luca Guglielmi. And the inevitable tuning of these gut-stringed instruments will take place, and then we'll take off on some of the amazing music, as you said, Clemency, of Couperin, whose music...
Jeff Spurgeon: He had all these titles, these interesting titles for his pieces. [French 00:26:23] and Naïve [French 00:26:25]; very descriptive, and sometimes quite elusive. We don't know what all of these titles meant.
Clemency B-H: Although we do know that the last one is a [French 00:26:33] or a lament, appropriately marked [French 00:26:36], "slowly and sorrowfully."
Clemency B-H: Music by Jean-Philippe Rameau, a pair of [inaudible 00:26:44] based on the lively Provencal folk dance that Rameau was exceedingly fond of. He wrote it and featured them in operas, ballets, and all sorts of instrumental music like we've just heard. It was, if you like, the hot dance move of the day.
Clemency B-H: Before that, we had a selection of royal concerts by François Couperin, performed live at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall by Jordi Savall and Le Concert des Nations. It was in fact Couperin that gives this ensemble its name. It comes from a piece by Couperin from 1726, a sonata set in suites representing the musical styles of four different areas, sections for France, Italy, Spain and the Holy Roman Empire. Very fitting, indeed. This is still the first ever orchestra, first period orchestra, made primarily with musicians from Latin countries. And Couperin was a French composer who was expert in Italian styles, a fore-runner, if you like, to the sort of curiosity that Jordi Savall has long exhibited.
Jeff Spurgeon: It's a wonderful way to put it, because his curiosity is endless, and has explored so many different areas of music around the world. Well, now, four of the players who were onstage have left, and it's just Jordi Savall and Philippe Pierlot, each with a viol in hand, getting ready to bring us more music of the mysterious Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe.
Jeff Spurgeon: We're going to hear the work called [French 00:28:10], so we'll have some darker sounds now in this performance from Zankel Hall, on this broadcast that comes to you from Carnegie Hall Live.
Jeff Spurgeon: Music of Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe, from Carnegie Hall Live, performed by Jordi Savall and Philippe Pierlot on two viols. This suite, [French 00:28:35], dark mood and a brighter mood, regrets, a dance, the call of [inaudible 00:28:43], rain, and then pictures of Elysium.
Jeff Spurgeon: And now, the stage door is once again open, and out to join Jordi Savall and Philippe Pierlot come Daniel Swenberg and Luca Guglielmi.
Clemency B-H: They'll be performing music by the student of Jean de Sainte-Colombe, Marin Marais, and we'll hear the Voices of Humanity, which I think is actually a rather good expression for how to describe Jordi Savall and Le Concert des Nations. Everything about this piece speaks dignity and calm.
Clemency B-H: After that, we'll hear music, couplets of [French 00:29:17], that refers to the [inaudible 00:29:19], and if you have even a passing acquaintance with Baroque music, you'll probably have encountered a [French 00:29:26] here and there, Arcangelo Corelli writing a very famous one, as did Vivaldi. It was that recurring harmonic progression that seemed to obsess Baroque and Renaissance composers. And it's used as a framework for many other pieces besides.
Clemency B-H: We'll hear Marais' genius in the way that he manipulates the ostinato bass in a variety of very inventive techniques and moods. Really listening, Jeff, this evening, I'm struck again by just how inventive this music is.
Jeff Spurgeon: Mm, incredibly so.
Jeff Spurgeon: From Carnegie Hall Live, Jordi Savall and Le Concert des Nations and music of Marin Marais. I am Jeff Spurgeon, along with Clemency Burton-Hill. You know on those cooking shows, Clemency, they give the chef three or four ingredients and ask them to whip up everything they can? That's exactly what we've just heard in this music of Marin Marais. This crowd is yelling about the improvisations and the different patterns built on that simple set of chords known as the [French 00:30:21]. Preceded by the Voices of Humanity, a much calmer and different mood of music by Marin Marais.
Jeff Spurgeon: But, boy, what a trip we've had in this last set of pieces based on that sequence of chords! What fun.
Clemency B-H: I keep thinking about what Jordi Savall said earlier today, Jeff, the idea that, yes, this is ancient music, but it is not really. It is ancient scores. And he said, "Actually, when you bring it alive, it's something so [inaudible 00:30:47] like a jazz concert." And I love that. As you say, the improvisation is everything.
Jeff Spurgeon: Exactly right.
Clemency B-H: Well, [French 00:30:53], as I mentioned, was in many ways made most famous by Arcangelo Corelli; great, towering genius of this era, and he was one of the great influences on the composer that we'll hear next, Jean-Marie Leclair, who was also one of the great violinists of his day.
Clemency B-H: We're going to hear a Sonata in D Major, and this is a great example of what was known at the time of the reunion of tastes, a great melange between Italian style, which is sort of characterized by this effervescent dynamism, and then the fluid, melodic lyricism of the French style. And this really exemplifies that melange of tastes.
Clemency B-H: Joining everyone onstage again, we have, once again, Manfredo Kraemer, the violinist who has been Jordi Savall's concert master for a long time. Here they are. Carnegie Hall Live.
Clemency B-H: Leclair's Sonata in D Major, Opus 2, number eight performed live at Carnegie Hall by Jordi Savall and Le Concert des Nations, bringing to a close a really fabulous program. It's placed us as sort of [inaudible 00:31:59] time-traveling, back to the 17th and 18th centuries of France, but also newly minting works that are both familiar and marvelously strange.
Clemency B-H: It's a wonderful combination of instruments, musical styles, melodic conversation that we've heard brought alive on Zankel Hall's stage this evening.
Jeff Spurgeon: Jordi Savall right now is asking the theorbo player to step forward. He is a new addition to Le Concert des Nations tonight, Daniel Swenberg of New York. And now, a bow for the harpsichordists, Luca Guglielmi. The two continual players now joined by flutist Charles Zebley, a Franco-American with whom we talked at intermission, and now a bow for the Dutch-Argentine violinist, longtime Savall concert master, Manfredo Kraemer. And the second of the two viol players tonight, Philippe Pierlot.
Jeff Spurgeon: And then, Maestro Savall joins them all for a company bow, and a special acknowledgement of Daniel Swenberg. This group of six musicians bringing you a range of music now, all of it French Baroque music, ranging from the latter part of the 1500's, pushing up with this Leclair work to, well, something near the end of the 1700's.
Jeff Spurgeon: An exploration tonight of music from the film Tous les Matins du Monde, 1991 film that was the inspiration for a lot of this program. The musicians are now onstage and rearranging themselves. I think, Clemency, we're going to get something more.
Clemency B-H: Looks that way, doesn't it, Jeff?
Jeff Spurgeon: We'll see if Maestro Savall lets us know what he's going to bring us.
Jordi Savall: We will now... [inaudible 00:33:52]. We will now return hundred years, more than hundred years later, exactly to the year 1600. This year, the beginning of the year was a very big festivity in Versailles to celebrate the birth of the children will be later, some 15 years later, the King of France, as in Louis [inaudible 00:34:23]. For these festivities was a lot of instruments, and in fact, it's the beginning of the Baroque orchestra.
Jordi Savall: For the occasion was [French, 00:34:35], they called it, the [inaudible 00:34:42], the fruit [inaudible 00:34:44] a big orchestra, and was a new repertory but also some ancient dances, like that we play now, which is one of the most famous dances of his time, called [French 00:34:59].
Jordi Savall: And all this music was conserved thanks to the musicologists from [inaudible 00:35:07], who has collected all the music from the different kings of the France. Thank you.
Jeff Spurgeon: [French 00:35:19], a dance preserved thanks to Philidor [inaudible 00:35:23], a Baroque-era collector of music from the French Baroque, and it was Jordi Savall who gave Philidor [inaudible 00:35:31] credit for preserving the music that you just heard. Clemency mentioned a moment ago, it's not early music, it's early scores. The music, vital and living, made just now by Jordi Savall and Le Concert des Nations in this broadcast coming to you from Carnegie Hall Live. Backstage, I'm Jeff Spurgeon alongside Clemency Burton-Hill.
Clemency B-H: Jeff, I'm so struck by what Jordi Savall does. Time and time again, he brings these little musical gems back from the obscurity of neglect and oblivion. I mean, how many people in this world have even heard of François-André Philidor? Don't feel guilty or ashamed if you haven't, dear listener! I just think that what we does, and the joy and the dedication and the love with which he sources this common language and narrative of human musical history, he's such an exemplary figure.
Clemency B-H: You mentioned at the beginning that he really is one of the great musical geniuses of our time, really, and I think we've just seen that in evidence again this evening.
Jeff Spurgeon: And what we discover time and time again is that this music is very alive and very vital, and as they used to say, it's got a beat, and you can dance to it. And yet, also, there are parts of it that are deeply heartfelt and that speak of the deepest of human emotions.
Jeff Spurgeon: Jordi Savall, backstage now with his musicians. Some congratulatory notes going around for another fine evening of performances. We're hoping to get a moment or two with Maestro Savall.
Clemency B-H: Although there's lots of warm embracing and hugging going on backstage. Anyone who thinks of the world of early music as emotionless and clinical and academic hasn't hung around with these guys. They look like they may be having a quite involved conversation about the performance, too.
Clemency B-H: We can give him a wave and see if he might come this way.
Jeff Spurgeon: Yes. We'll get him in a moment.
Clemency B-H: He's holding that glorious viol of his, made for him in 1967, I believe. Maestro! How wonderful to see you. Thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.
Jeff Spurgeon: Congratulations, a very fine performance; a pleasure to see you, Maestro Savall. Thank you so much for coming to the microphones. It was a glorious evening. This concert, inspired by that work you did for the movie Tous les Matins du Monde...
Jordi Savall: Yes.
Jeff Spurgeon: How has it been to return to some of that music? I feel like you've carried it with you through the years, but maybe this has been a special kind of return and look at it again.
Jordi Savall: Yes. I think, [inaudible 00:37:53] the music for the movie, I have never played a concert with this music!
Jeff Spurgeon: Really?
Jordi Savall: For me, this was... many, many other viol players, they have do this, but I was not concerned about this. But when Alain Corneau died some years ago, I have think, "I have to do a concert to make an homage to Alain Corneau."
Jeff Spurgeon: The director of the film?
Jordi Savall: The director of the film, the movie director. And then, I like the... It's like to found a very old friend.
Jeff Spurgeon: Ah, that's-
Jordi Savall: Or a very old love, you know? And return to a special repertory. Very specific, very simple [inaudible 00:38:37] Jeune Fillette, or the [French 00:38:41], and the other pieces.
Jeff Spurgeon: It's very refined. It seems to me that this French repertoire, how is it different from the way the gamba was used in Spain or in England?
Jordi Savall: Very different because Spain and England, the gamba is more used in the Renaissance. Every country has his golden age. Spain was very rich in this repertory in the 16th Century, and the 17th Century, it's then England; England has the very great gamba players like Tobias Hume, and then all the great composers like Jenkins, William Lawes, and until [inaudible 00:39:23] was a gamba concert, viol and [inaudible 00:39:25] viol.
Jordi Savall: And in France, it's from the end of the 17th Century beginning the 18th Century; the same in Germany. Germany, Holland, is the Baroque period.
Jeff Spurgeon: Why did that happen?
Jordi Savall: I think it was the music [inaudible 00:39:44], makes possible the people that can spend time practicing the instruments; it was the same in England. The gamba was very popular in every... [inaudible 00:39:56] Catholic house, maybe a rich house, they have played concerts, and it was very, very popular. And France was the... well, yeah, the gamba was, I think, the most [inaudible 00:40:08] instrument because, for the chamber music, it's an instrument which is soft, which you can play a long time and you are never disturbed.
Jordi Savall: Violins, for example, it's very good in a big hall, concert. In the intimate, it's always much magical.
Clemency B-H: The film won multiple awards, including Best Film and Best Director for Alain Corneau at the-
Jordi Savall: And the best music, yeah.
Clemency B-H: And Best Music, of course! And I'm just thinking, it introduced such a huge audience to this kind of music at the time, but how important is it for you to continue to renew that with new audiences of today who might not be so familiar with it?
Jordi Savall: Yeah. Oh, yeah, I think the big change in the movie was, the movie has such million of people in the world, but a lot, a great majority, young people! People that probably will never go to a concert of classical or not Baroque music. And this was really, for me, the most impressing thing.
Jeff Spurgeon: Well, the movie was very beautiful, and it was also very sexy, so it was no surprise that young people liked it.
Jordi Savall: Yeah. It's also, yeah, but also, this conflict between the teacher, and the transmission of the... and the conflict between the life, it is a very poetical film, you know?
Clemency B-H: Speaking of conflict, I want to ask, because your music, your music-making, not just this style of music but everything that you have done, it's so much about a mediation, about this idea that what connects humanity across space and time is infinitely more powerful than what divides us. And I'm wondering, in 2019, it feels to me like we've never needed that message more urgently.
Jordi Savall: I think, in this moment, I think, in my experience with the music, is still you can make bridges. You can make bridges with all the cultures, all the religions. Music, it's still a language you can use because you cannot lie with music. You cannot lie with music. No. But the words, you can say wrong things. Fake news.
Jordi Savall: With the music, everybody understand if you are not feeling, playing with the heart.
Clemency B-H: I love that. There's no fake news in music! You heard it here.
Jordi Savall: No, I think this is the... Even the most [inaudible 00:42:27] musically person understands when the singer sings without emotion, you know? It is something you feel [inaudible 00:42:36], and this makes music the best way to bring together people because we talk with, directly to the heart.
Jeff Spurgeon: You sound like Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe in the film, demanding of Marin Marais that he not just play the music, but that he be a musician!
Jordi Savall: Yeah.
Jeff Spurgeon: Are you a little of each of those? You have enjoyed great success, and performance on the stage through the years...
Jordi Savall: I think with my age, I a little both. Have the experience of Sainte-Colombe, and still, I have the [inaudible 00:43:09] of Marin Marais.
Jeff Spurgeon: It is a wonderful thing.
Jordi Savall: Yeah, but I have to say, somebody asked in the time of Sainte-Colombe, if something the teachers are having students who goes farther, they play better. And he says, "Yes, this something arrives sometimes, but Marin Marais will have no [inaudible 00:43:35] they will make play better him."
Jeff Spurgeon: I'm not sure that he knew about Jordi Savall, though. Here we are today! Here we are today. Maestro Savall, thank you so much.
Jordi Savall: You're welcome. It's a pleasure.
Jeff Spurgeon: It's such a pleasure to talk to you.
Jordi Savall: Thank you.
Jeff Spurgeon: And a great thrill to hear you, as well.
Jordi Savall: Thank you.
Clemency B-H: So much.
Jeff Spurgeon: Jordi Savall joining us at the Carnegie Hall microphones tonight after a performance by his organization, Le Concert des Nations, and his own wonderful playing of the viola da gamba, the instrument that he has helped to revive and spread around the world. He's saved a few luthiers' careers, too.
Clemency B-H: Single-handedly!
Jeff Spurgeon: There have been lots of people building these things. That's right.
Clemency B-H: Exactly.
Jeff Spurgeon: So, his influence continues in a lot of directions. Well, that concludes our broadcast tonight, with thanks to everyone who made it possible, Clive Gillenson and the staff of Carnegie Hall; WQXR's recording engineers, Ed Habert, George Wellington, Rick Quan, and Nick [inaudible 00:44:25]. Marin Lazin is our stage manager, and our digital producer is Max Fine.
Clemency B-H: Thank you also to WQXR's production team, Christine Hurskovitz, Matt Abramovitz, and Eileen Delahunty.
Clemency B-H: Carnegie Hall Live is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, on the web at Arts.gov.
Jeff Spurgeon: And by Macy's, committed to helping communities through supporting education in the arts, health and wellness, and the environment. More information at Macys.com/macysgives.
Clemency B-H: Additional support for WQXR is provided in part by the Howard Gilman Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council. I'm Clemency Burton-Hill.
Jeff Spurgeon: And I'm Jeff Spurgeon. This program is a production of WQXR in New York.