Jordi Savall - Anon - El Cant de la Sibil-la
Classical, 137MB RAR, Highest Quality MP3 LAME 3.97 320kbps, Proper ID Tags
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Reviewer: ewomack "ewomack"
Horror, destruction, flames, judgement, and terror. A listener would never guess from the slow beautiful music that "The Song of the Sibyl" shouts out a warning to the people about the earth's last days:
From heaven a great fire shall descend
with a sulphorous stench,
the earth shall burn with fury
and the people with terror blench.
The singing that accompanies these lines pours passionately off the vocal cords of Montserrat Figueras. The melody bursts with longing and pain, but never terror. Perhaps a plea for mercy or forgiveness inspired these melodies, and explains the meditative, painfully sorrowful mood that pervades the music. The minimalistic accompaniment (by Jordi Savall and crew) heightens the feeling by punctuating voila riffs between the vocal passages. A stunning effect results that stands up to listen after listen. Repeated listenings actually bring out nuances buried in the notes. Knowing the meaning of what Figueras sings adds yet another dimension and also provides this piece some historical context.
Christianity shed certain parts of its pagan past slowly. The character of the Sibyl provides only one of many examples. A mainstay of Christmas Mass for centuries, the church banned the act in the 16th century, as the CD booklet explains, because of "the problems arising from the performances of the Sibyl, which are offensive to our Lord God." Somehow the song survived in parts of Mallorca (a Spanish island south of Barcelona) and to the present day the Sibyl sings there during Midnight Mass on Christmas.
The character of the Sibyl traces back at least to Greek mythology. Often playing the role of a prophetess, as Heraclitus said in the 5th Century BCE, she "...reaches to a thousand years with her voice by the aid of the god." She sometimes took the form of a mermaid or a fish. Even Norse mythology has a "Song of the Sibyl". Under Christianity the Sibyl became the prophetess of judgement day. The CD book exposes the pagan roots of the song when describing the Sibyl costume worn in the 15th or 16th century by a young boy: "...his costume included a pair of gloves, a suit, a wig and a hairy tail which gave him the appearance of a mermaid." Like many early performances, young boys played the female parts (Savall and Company help to correct this by having a woman sing the part of the Sibyl on this CD).
This Cd contains two versions of the Apocalyptic song. One from Mallorca and one from Valencia (the CD book explains the separate but similar origins). The Mallorcan version beats along slowly and meditatively with Montserrat Figueras' amazing voice and vocal technique. A few sparse instrumental accompaniments follow along, and a small chorus joins in now and then for the imporant lyrical leitmotif. The Valencian version picks up the pace a little by starting and ending with horn fanfares. Male voices provide the chorus in this version, and Figueras sings just as beautifully.
Together these pieces give the listener a good idea of what the Song of the Sibyl was all about. Both are amazing works, likely made more amazing for modern listeners by the always incredible La Capella Reial De Catalunya. This CD somehow reaches incredible musical, religious, and historical depths all at once. Definitely not an accomplishment to sniff at.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Fantastic piece. Gets better the more you listen to it., May 23, 2003
I am by no means an expert on classical music, but I know what I like. El Cant De La Sibil is a personal favorite in my fairly extensive "early music" collection.
The two pieces are different "realizations" of the same "work," separated by a century and a half. The tune is basically the same; the dialect and the verses are somewhat different.
At first listen the pieces might seem "repetetive." The choir sings a verse and is answered each time by the soloist (Figueras) who sings an unchanging response -- "On Judgment Day those who serve shall be repaid." However, both the choir and the soloist make their parts sound at times plaintive, then certain, questioning, resigned, hopeful, etc. This is especially true of Figueras, the soloist. In fact, the more you listen to it the more you pick up on the differences of the mood and the better it sounds.
Even if you are not into "early/renaissance music" per se, I would not hesitate to purchase this disc. There are some truly beautiful harmonies and expressions here which deserve to be appreciated on their own.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
incredible cd, April 2, 2002
This is one of the most beautiful CDs I've ever heard. These are two long, somber pieces, both based on the same basic melody and text. Montserrat Figueras has the perfect voice for this music - clear, pure, but impassioned and powerful. Both obbligato instrumentalists are at their best, in particular Jordi Savall, who is always a treat to listen to. The choir is extremely fine as well, in particular the basses, whose voices soar during a recurring section of the Valencian Sibyl. This might not be a particularly historically accurate version of these two works, and the extent to which they were written by Jordi Savall and not Anonymous Monk is not clear from the detailed though sometimes difficult program notes. Regardless, this is a CD that has spent more time in my player than perhaps any other.
Reviewer: Gary S. Dalkin
The first thing that strikes one about this album is the absolutely beautiful digipak presentation. Someone at AliaVox has clearly thought about this as an entire package, and the result is like a lovingly presented miniature gatefold, complete with a thick (48 page - 5 in English, plus libretto and photos) booklet which can be accessed without having to risk destruction by removing it from a conventional jewel-box.
It would seem an introduction is in order, an issue which the notes by Maricarmen Gómez address only in passing, presumably because to a Spanish audience little introduction to the concept of this music is necessary. However, it appears that the Song of the Sibyl is the song of the Last Judgement, more of a genre than one particular song, developed anonymously, and which in Mediterranean countries dates back at least to the middle ages. The song, which appeared in many variations in different cultures, was regularly performed in cathedrals, used in processions, and was often a feature of Christ Mass day matins. The two versions on this release date from the mid-16th century, from the decades around the time when the song was suppressed in the aftermath of the Council of Trent in 1563, a result of "problems arising from the performances of the Sibyl, which are offensive to our Lord". According to the title the album spans 1400-1560, presumably because the music developed over this period, though some material dates from slightly later still. The ban was intermittently upheld, until performances were reinstated in the cathedral at Palma in 1692, where they continue there to this day. For various complex reasons some degree of reconstruction of this anonymous music been inevitable, such that the songs here should perhaps been taken as imaginative interpretations of the past, rather than strictly accurate historical re-creations.
The texts recount from different perspectives presumably Sibylline prophecy of what is expected to transpire on the day of Christ's Judgement of Mankind, the Mallorcan version concentrating with some relish on fiery torment and terror, the Valencian text looking towards the resurrection of the faithful and the 'deeds both good and ill of men…'
And what of the music? There are two substantial works. Sibil - La Mallorquina - Monastère des nonnes de La Concepció Palma de Mallorca, and Sibil - La Valenciana - Cathédrale de València, the first lasting almost 37 minutes, the second exactly 24 minutes. This is portentous music, not in any modern pejorative sense, but as in music laden with expectation, resolute in a solemn majesty. This is not classical music as later centuries would come to understand, but a music naturally arising from a mediaeval world-view of an unchanging, preordained universe which could only be resolved in the Last Judgement. As such this is absolute music, allowing no doubt or uncertainty, and therefore as confident, as implacable and timeless as the vast cathedrals in which it was performed. And there really is a sense of timelessness, for the slow, stately tempos barely vary, creating a sense of a world outside time, above and beyond our fragile reality. This is a fatalistic vision, not as in any 20th century nihilism, but arising from a certainty that the only sensible solution to life is to accept the inevitable. With an acceptance beyond joy or sorrow, this music becomes an almost purely architectural statement of belief, as beautiful and intimidating as the stone carvings and stained glass windows of a medieval cathedral. All is dominated by the extraordinarily rich and powerful voice of Montserrat Figueras, and yet the arrangements contain great musical-dramatic force in the almost celestially detached application of choir, bells, strings, trumpets and percussion to establish what just might be the most haunting apocalyptic sound you will ever hear. There is a still purity utterly alien to our time, yet this is a strangely thrilling, even exhilarating recording, for the music also has an intense drama so unfamiliar that although old, it feels very new. The ancient songs are filled with gravitas and wonder, and Figueras has the vocal clarity and projection, coupled with beauty of tone and shear passion, to send shivers down the spine. This is a recording which really does touch on that indefinable edge where musical expression becomes something transcendent and numinous.
I hope you enjoy as much as I have - it's simply beautiful!
I hope you enjoy as much as I have - it's simply beautiful!