Ostinato. Hesperion XXI: Jordi Savall, viols de gamba; Manfredo Kraemer, violin; Pablo Valetti, violin
Ostinato. Hespèrion XXI: Jordi Savall, viols de gamba; Manfredo Kraemer, violin; Pablo Valetti, violin; and many others. (Alia Vox AV9820)
Jordi Savall's latest romp through the early music genre with musical ensemble Hespèrion XXI is a buffet of ciaccones, gigues, and ruggerios with a healthy portion of improvisation. Savall's colorful stylings on the disc's opening track, "Gallardo Napolitana" by Antonio Valente, illustrate just why he is known as the major proponent in resuscitating interest in the viola da gamba. The entire recording exemplifies the traits that put Savall on the map with impressive performances on viols ranging from bass to treble. The choice of repertoire emphasizes basso ostinato. The liner notes explain, "The use of repeated melodic patterns in the low register, as the basis for successive contrapuntal elaborations by one or more parts in the upper register, is one of the earliest forms of instrumental music known in Europe." Despite these underlying thematic similarities, the collection is musically diverse. The dynamic interplay between Savall on viola de gamba soprano and Manfredo Kraemer on violin on "Passacalle," by Andrea Falconiero, is full of verve and vitality. Conversely, the luminescent duet between Kraemer and Pablo Valetti on violins in Henry Purcell's Sonata a 2, with Michael Behringer on organ and Bruno Cocset playing cello, proves to be a dreamy performance salted with chromatic violin passages executed in deft playing style. Overall, the disc is a solid exploration of the ostinato dance styles of the early 16th and 17th centuries. This unwritten tradition forms a vehicle for Savall and Hespèrion XXI to dish up stellar improvisational runs within the structured four-part basic harmony (i–iv–vi–V in minor, and I–V–IV–V in the major mode) of the Passacaglia and Ciaccona—making for spirited and insightful arrangements.
This article, "Ostinato. Hesperion XXI: Jordi Savall, viols de gamba; Manfredo Kraemer, violin; Pablo Valetti, violin," is part of the Strings Archive, which you can access with a paid site subscription.
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