Tuesday 24 February 2015

The Weight of History - War and Peace 1614 - 1714 from Jordi Savall

War and Peace 1614-1714; Jordi Savall, Hesperion XXI, La Capella Reial de Catalunya, Le Concert des Nations; AliaVox
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on Feb 17 2015
Star rating: 4.0

Two Cd's and a book explore the effects of war and evoke a turbulent century
This new set from Jordi Savall, Hesperion XXI, La Capella Reial de Catalunya and Le Concert des Nations in the AliaVox label is a substantial tome. Entitled War and Peace: 1614 - 1714 the set consists of two CD's of music plus a book. In it Savall looks at the turbulent century from 1614 to 1714 in Europe alongside the music which came out of it. The intention is to evoke through music the century which preceded the War of the Spanish Succession, from the Ottoman attack on Hungary in 1613 through the Thirty Years war to the Treaty of Utrecht and the fall of Barcelona. The music is many and varied, with known and unknown composers like Samuel Scheidt, Ambrosio Cotes, Lope de Vega, Johan Herman Schein, Guillaume Dumanoir, Philidor, Johann Rosenmuller, John Jenkins, Jean-Baptiste Lully, Dimitrie Cantemir, Francesco Cavalli, Joan Cereols, John Blow, Joan Cabanilles, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Antonio Caldara, Vasily Titov, Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber and George Frideric Handel plus Jewish (Aramaic), Ottoman, Catalan, Spanish and French composers.

The CD's are organised historically with each event evoked by music. Sometimes the music has a concrete link with the event, so that we know that Caldara's opera Il piu bel nome was performed in Barcelona in 1708 at the wedding of Archduke Charles, pretender to the Spanish throne, who had established his court in Barcelona. And John Jenkins' The Siege of Newark is intended to described exactly that. Other events are simply evoked by suitable music, so that the opening of the War of the Spanish Succession is marked with movements from Biber's Batallia a 10.

For an Englishman the period 1614 to 1714 is dominated by four events, the Civil War, the Restoration of Charles II, the Glorious Revolution and the Hanoverian settlement. For much of the century English foreign policy rarely looked beyond the British Isles and involvement in foreign wars was often done only if it looked as if England could reap benefit. But the accompanying book makes it clear that this century saw an almost continuous series of wars and conflicts in Europe. I only have a hazy knowledge of the reasons behind the Thirty Years War and the War of the Spanish Succession, but it is clear from looking at the book that these conflicts must have had a major effect in European civilisation.

What is amazing is that so much culture, so much art and music, came out of the century. It was a period which saw the development of the orchestra as an entity and the codification of what an opera was. Instrumental music saw similar developments so that much of what we regard as modern arises out of the developments in this century. But the music on the disc does not stop there. The first CD opens with an Ottoman march (representing the Ottoman attack on Hungary) and is followed by a Jewish Aramaic lament (for the massacre of the Jews in Frankfurt).

With many anthologies you can happily listen without worrying about the raison d'etre behind the collection. Here, though the performances are superb, you do rather need to know what is happening to get the best from the set. The opening sequence of Ottoman march, Jewish lament, Scheidt's Galliard Battaglia a 5 Voci, Biber's Battaglia and the traditional Catalan Cant dels Aucells quant aarribaren los Vaixells caused my partner to comment (as we listened to it in the car), what are we listening to?

The music covered is extremely varied, with one or two key works given complete. So the whole set concludes with Handel's Jubilate Deo written for the celebration of the Treaty of Utrecht, and the first disc concludes with Blow's Praise the Lord, O my soul for the coronation of William and Mary. Other complete works include Lully's Jubilate Deo (Le Motet de la Paix) written for the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659, and Marc-Antoine's Te Deum. We hear excerpts from Biber's large-scale Missa Bruxellensis (for the crowning of Archduke Charles as Holy Roman Emperor). The performances are all of the highest order, and even the English diction of the singers in the Blow and Handel is highly creditable (and testament to the care and attention that has gone into the whole package). When the Ottoman Empire attacks Russia we even move briefly into Church Slavonic for music by one of the pre-eminent Russian Baroque composers Vasily Titov.

The accompanying book reveals all, but it is a very solid tome. This is because everything is presented in six languages (French, English, Spanish, Catalan, German, Italian) and the English section is some 50 pages of closely spaced type. There is an invaluable chronology and the track list pairs music with events (I reproduce it at the bottom of this review as it is the best way to understand what the set is trying to achieve), and Josep Maria Vilar's article looks at the musical developments which the century encompasses. But it is clear from Jordi Savall's introduction that the reasoning behind the set is very much philosophical, looking at the effects of war and the consequences of peace. And Savall clearly thinks that the events of 1614 to 1714 have a clear parallel in our own time and frankly I think he is right. This set is horribly prescient.

The other articles build on this theme with War and Peace in our history from Manuel Corano and Sergi Grau, Exporting the dispute over roots in the construction of Western identity from chapter V of Georges Corm's Pour une lecture profane des conflits, Rescuing Morality by Borja Vilallonga, Ending War and Creating Sustainable Peace by Jody Williams, the American political activist. I have to confess that the more the essays moved away from history the more difficult I found them to read, but then I don't usually read philosophy and political science.

The book is also copiously illustrated with photographs of Savall and his ensembles performing the music, and with historical images so that it is well worth leafing through the other parts of the book (even if you don't speak the language).

None of the wars really achieved anything, so that the War of the Spanish Succession which was intended to stop the rise of King Louis XIV and prevent him from putting his son (whose mother was the Spanish Infante) on the Spanish throne and thus draw Spain into France's orbit (the last Hapsburg Spanish King had died without and heir). But the war finally ended when the rival candidate, one of the Vienna Hapsburgs, was crowned Holy Roman Emperor so that his becoming King of Spain would also put paid to Spain's independence. But the war had terrible consequences, and it is clear that it had a disastrous effect in Catalonia which was the seat of the Hapsburg candidate, Archduke Charles.

This thread of Catalonia history runs through the set, to a certain extent giving it focus and links it personally to Savall in a way what makes the unwieldy conflation something more human and understandable.

Much of the music was recorded specially for these discs, though other come from other discs from Savall's back catalogue on AliaVox. Though the tracks use his ensembles Hesperion XXI, La Capella Reial de Catalunya and Le Concert des Nations the exact allocation of who does what covers seven pages of the book.

Don't buy this if you simply want to listen to a selection of 17th century music from Jordi Savall, but do use it to explore the music of a century that spent most of the time convulsed in war. This is music to enjoy and to think about as well.

Apologies that the track listing is in French, but I could not find one in English and could not face typing it all.

1. Pavane pour la petite « guaire » (guerre), fait pour les Cornetz en 1601 - Mss. Philidor
1613 L’Empire ottoman attaque la Hongrie
Makam « Muhayyer pesrev » – Marche Guerrière Ottomane. Anonyme (instr.)
2. Taksim
3. Marche Turque
Du début de la Guerre de Trente Ans au Traité de Nimègue 1614 - 1689
1614 Massacre des juifs à Francfort
4. Ha lahma ‘anya – Plainte en Araméen
1618 Prague, début de la Guerre de Trente Ans
5. Galliard Battaglia à 5 Voci. Cantus XXI - Samuel Scheidt (1587-1654)
1624/25 Breda est assiégée par les troupes espagnoles
6. Romance : Ya es tiempo de recoger - Lope de Vega / Anonyme
1635 La Paix de Prague
7. Zion spricht : Der Herr hat mich verlassen - Johann Hermann Schein (1586-1630)
1636 Richelieu déclare la guerre à l’Espagne

8. Charivaris pour les hautbois - Anonyme (Mss. Philidor)
9. Gavotte en suitte - Anonyme (Mss. Philidor)
1640 Guerra dels Segadors « El Corpus de Sang »
1641 Janvier. Pau Claris exprime sa volonté de constituer une République Catalane
10. Catalunya comptat gran (Traditionnel / Jordi Savall)
11. Hymne de la Catalogne (Traditionnel / Jordi Savall)
La Catalogne accepte la souveraineté de Louis XIII
12. Intrada-Geschwindt-Langsamer-Sarabande - Suites d’Orchestre – Guillaume Dumanoir (1615-1697)
1645 Guerre de l’Empire Ottoman contre Venise
13. Taksim & Makam « Uzzäl uşūleş Darb-I feth » - Dervis Mehmed (Mss. Dimitrie Cantemir N.209)
1648 Paix de Westphalie. Fin de la Guerre de 30 ans
14. Siehe an die Werke Gottes - Johann Rosenmüller (1617-1684)
1649 Guerre civil en Angleterre
15. The Newark Siege - John Jenkins (1592-1678)
1652 Les Institutions catalanes reconnaissent Philippe IV d’Espagne comme souverain de Catalogne
16. Philippus Rex Hispaniæ (Fanfare instrumental et vocal) - Jordi Savall d’après Ambrosio Cotes (1550?-1603)
1659 La Paix des Pyrénées
Célébration de l’entrée royale à Paris, en 1660 
 17. Jubilate Deo « Le Motet de la Paix » (LWV 77/16) - Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687)
1669 Les Vénitiens sont expulsés de Crête par les Ottomans
18. Der makām-ı Räst « Murass’a » uşūleş Düyek
1678 Célébration du Traité de Nimègue
Alceste – Jean-Baptiste Lully
19. Marche des Combattants
20. Menuet (LWV 50)
1689 Guillaume III est couronné Roi d’Angleterre
21. Praise the Lord, O my soul - John Blow (1649-1708)

Du Traité de Turin à la fin de la Guerre de succession d’Espagne 1696 - 1714
1696 Célébration du Traité de Turin
Te Deum – Marc Antoine Charpentier (1643-1704)
1. Prélude
2. Te Deum Laudamus
3. Te aeternum patrem
4. Pleni sunt caeli
1701/02 Commencement de la Guerre de Succession d’Espagne

5. Sonata - Battalia a 10 – Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber (1644-1704)
6. Die Schlacht - Battalia a 10 – Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber (1644-1704)
1705 Pacte de Gênes. L’archiduc Charles arrive à Barcelone
7. Cant dels Aucells quant arribaren los Vaixells - Anonyme traditionnel / Jordi Savall
1708 Mariage à Barcelone de l’archiduc Charles
Il più bel nome – Antonio Caldara (1670 - 1736)
8. Sinfonia
9. Coro di Seguaci della virtù
10. Aria : Cari Elisi (Marianne Beata Kielland)
1710 Mort de l’Empereur Joseph I
11. Marcia Funebre - Jordi Savall d’après le Requiem de Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber
L’archiduc Charles est couronné Empereur
12. Kyrie - Missa Bruxellensis – Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber
Célébration du Couronnement
13. Florilegium II, Chaconne de la Suite IV « Impatientia » - Georg Muffat (1653-1704)
1711 L’Empire Ottoman attaque la Russie
14. Der makām-ı Uzzäl Sakîl « Turna » Semâ’î – Mss. D. Cantemir (324) - Vasily Titov (ca.1650-ca.1715)
15. Beznevéstnaya Dévo (O Virgo) - Vasily Titov (ca.1650-ca.1715)
1714 Siège de Barcelone
16. Batalla Imperial - Joan Cabanilles – Johann Caspar Kerll (1627-1693)
1714 11 septembre. La capitulation de Barcelone
17. Lamento der Verwundten Musquetirer - Battalia a 10 – Heirich Ignaz Franz von Biber
1714 11 septembre. Prière pour les victimes du Siège de Barcelone
18. Missa Pro Defunctis - Hei mihi - Joan Cererols (1644-1712)
Plainte populaire catalane
19. Catalunya en altre temps - Texte ancien / Musique : Jordi Savall sur une mélodie traditionnelle
Célébration de la fin de la Guerre de succession d’Espagne
Jubilate Deo / O be joyful (HWV 279) - Georg Friedrich Händel (1685-1759)
Composé pour la célébration du Traité de Utrecht (11 d’avril 1713), ou la France signait
l’accord de Paix avec les Pays Bas, la Grande Bretagne, la Savoie et l’Autriche.
20. O be joyful in the Lord - Solo (D. Munderloch) & Chorus
21. 221. Serve the Lord with gladness - Chorus
22. Be ye sure that the Lord he is God - Duo (D. Guillon, S. MacLeod)
23. O go your way into his gates - Chorus
24. For the Lord is gracious - Terzetto (D. Guillon, D. Munderloch, S. MacLeod)
25. Glory be to the Father - Chorus
26. As it was in the beginning - Chorus
Hesperion XXI
La Capella Reial de Catalunya
Le Concert des Nations
Jordi Savall (conductor)
Recorded May 2014, May 2011, June/July 2013, plus recordings from 1996 - 2001
AliaVox AVSA9908 2CD's, 1 book

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