Recording Date and Place: January 2006 in the Colegiata del Castillo de Cardona (Catalunya)
## 1-7 I
## 8-14 II
## 15-21 III
Jordi Savall vielle, rebab, lire d'archet
Dimitris Psonis santur, saz
Driss El Maloumi oud, Yair Dalal oud
Pedro Estevan darbouka, bendir, tambor, pandereta, riq-gunga
Khaled Arman rubab
Osman Arman tulak (flute traversiere)
Seiar Hashimi tablas & zirbaghali
All Music Guide
========= from the cover ==========
Listening to this selection of music from East and West so ingeniously put together by Jordi Savall is no ordinary experience. In addition to the aesthetic emotion, we feel another that is even more intense - a sense of magical communion with reconciled humanity.
One can't help feeling that, with the simultaneous demise of both Sepharad and Al-Andalus in the second half of the 15th century, only forty years after the fall of Byzantium, some part of the human soul was also lost. Those events led to the destruction of intellectual and spiritual bridges between East and West that have never since been repaired. Once the fertile hub of our cultural universe, the Mediterranean became a battlefield and a barrier between peoples.
Nowadays, our common sea marks the site of an invisible Wall which divides the planet into terror-gripped North and despairing South, into world communities which have grown accustomed to distrusting and distancing themselves from "the Other". Arab and Jew seem to have forgotten their former, life-giving family ties, while Muslim East and Christian West appear to be locked into a confrontation from which there is no way out.
If our disoriented humanity is to regain some shred of hope, we must go far beyond a dialogue between cultures and beliefs to engage in a dialogue between souls. At the beginning of the 21st century, that is the indispensable mission of art. And that is exactly what we feel we are listening to in this superb collection of music from diverse eras and lands. Suddenly, we discover - or rediscover - that the civilizations we had thought of as remote or even inimical to one another, are in fact surprisingly close, with an astonishing degree of mutual interdependence.
Throughout this journey in time and space, we constantly find ourselves wondering whether the conflicts to which we have become accustomed are perhaps mere delusions, and the true nature of peoples and cultures is rather to be found in this dialogue of instruments, chords, cadences, expression and inspiration. Then we feel welling up in us a profound joy born of an act of faith: diversity does not have to produce adversaries; our cultures are not sealed inside impermeable shells; our world is not doomed to be endlessly torn apart; it can still be saved...
And hasn't that always, from the very dawn of the human adventure, been the primary purpose of art?
East - West
The seminal idea for this anthology of music, towards the end of 2001, was the unconscious search for a spiritual antidote to the mounting, dramatic conflict of civilizations that erupted with the outbreak of war in Afghanistan. Above all, Orient-Occident was born out of solidarity and the wish to share musical experience with musicians from other cultures and religions, as well as to reflect on those times in the past when we in the West have also been responsible for breeding intolerance and cruelty. Four years on, the Orient-Occident project has finally taken the form of a stimulating dialogue between musicians from East and West, articulated through the instruments and music of Christian, Jewish and Muslim Hesperia, the stampitte of medieval Italy and the improvisations and dances of Morocco, Israel, Persia, Afghanistan and the old Ottoman empire. Forms of music apparently far removed from one another in time and space, music that has often been consigned to oblivion beneath successive layers of modernism, or undervalued because of its uncertain origins. Dances, prayers, songs and laments of rare beauty and intense emotion, whose delicacy of expression frees us from the stranglehold of our deeply embedded roots and avoidable isolation. Melodies and dances that spring from the coaxing bow of the fiddle and the firmness of the Italian lyre, from the rhythm and beat of the lutes of Morocco and Israel, from the plucking of the Iranian psaltery and the Moorish guitar of Turkey, from the captivating tulak and the turbulent rabab of Afghanistan, all swept along by the vibrant, magical pulse of the indispensable, ancestral percussion instruments.
From ancient times, there have been constant references to the extraordinary power and effects of music and instruments on people, animals and even trees and plants. These are the most characteristic attributes of Orpheus, and it is precisely because of Orpheus's musical power and skill that he became the subject of one of the most obscure and symbolically charged of all the Greek myths. The Orpheus myth developed into a whole theology around which a copious and, to a great extent, esoteric literature has grown up. Orpheus is the Musician par excellence, of whom it is said that he played melodies so enchanting that even wild beasts, trees and plants bowed down before him, and the fiercest of men were calmed by his music. The myth had an exceptionally long life, reaching to the distant East and beyond.
It is precisely from the East that the first bowed instruments came. Unknown in Antiquity and even in the early Middle Ages, one of the most probable hypotheses is that bowing technique gradually developed in Europe thanks to the influence of musicians from Arabo-Islamic countries. In this context, we should recall the sophistication of Arab and Byzantine culture in the 10th century, as well as the high frequency of cultural exchange that was often associated with conflicts between East and West. It therefore comes as no surprise that the earliest representations, dating from the 10th century, of plucked and bowed instruments in European art are Hispanic in origin and are to be found in the Mozarabic Beato de Liebana manuscripts (c. 920-930) and in various Catalan manuscripts, including the Bible of Santa Maria de Ripoll. By the 14th century, textual references to these instruments abound, such as this description given by Juan Ruiz, Archpriest of Hita, in his famous book Libro de buen amor (c. 1330):
In a bevy of instruments, out roll the drums.
A Moorish guitar fills the air as she comes
with high-pitched strumming and garrulous tones;
her place in the dance takes the full-bodied lute,
while the Latin guitar closely follows their suit;
the trilling rebec with her shrill, soaring note
and the twang of the Jew's harp clearing her throat;
from their midst the psaltery's voice floats aloft
and the plucky vihuela throws in her lot.
The harp, the qanun and rabab's joint refrains
in a French reel merrily mingle their strains;
high as a steeple the flute sings along
in time with the taborin who tempers her song;
the bowed vihuela with cadences sweet,
who by turns both rouses and lulls us to sleep;
her lilting sweet chords, both clear and in tune,
all hearts fill with gladness, not one is immune.
Protesting uncertain progress and hampered by a lack of the necessary knowledge and skills, the Western world has preserved little of its ancient organological (Instrumental) heritage; it has, however, succeeded in preserving the most significant works of its musical heritage, thanks to the invention of musical notation. Eastern cultures, by contrast, have adhered to a strong oral transmission of extraordinary continuity which (until the 18th century) remained faithful to the use of a large number of instruments of very ancient origin, such as the lute, the lyre, the psaltery/santur, the saz or Moorish guitar, the flutes and the rabab, despite the virtual non-existence of written accounts of their music. One major exception is the manuscript entitled Kitabu ilmi'l- musiki ala vechi'l-hurufat (The book of the science of music with notations), compiled by the Moldavian-born musician Prince Dimitrie Cantemir (1673-1723), containing 365 instrumental and vocal pieces - some of which are original compositions by the author, while others are older pieces gleaned from the Turkish popular tradition - written down in a system of notation of his own invention. Four of these compositions (tracks 1, 13, 17 and 21) are featured on this CD.
Until the invention of polyphony and harmony, the Iberian Peninsula shared a common musical language - that of monodic composition - as a result of more than seven centuries of coexistence between the three major cultures of the Mediterranean world: the Jewish, the Muslim and the Christian. This contact and mutual influence explain a certain capacity for intercultural exchange and traffic. Sadly, this phenomenon was not always voluntary; moreover, it was progressively eroded by the marginalising tendencies of an increasingly intransigent society, culminating in the expulsion of unconverted Jews and Moriscos in 1492 and 1502, respectively.
Orient-Occident is divided into three sections, the pieces presented in alternating sequences to contrast their different origins: Eastern and Western, as well as courtly and traditional, from both the written and oral cultural traditions. Grounded in its pursuit of the musical styles proper to each period and cultural space, this programme avoids the superficialities of cultural crossover, instead endeavouring to re-establish a dialogue that respects the musical identity of each of those spaces and cultures. The recognition of all cultures, independently of their power and prestige, is a fundamental part of that cultural dialogue. For that very reason, we feel that today, more than ever, it is crucially important to believe that, through the language of music, the exchange of ideas and emotions expressed by music and musicians of such diverse origins and cultures is both possible and necessary. Like all minstrels and musicians down the ages, we are convinced that, in spite of our religious and cultural differences, through music "our souls can be moved to courage and strength, to generosity and magnanimity, all of which are conducive to the good government of peoples":
Ut eorum animos ad audaciam et fortitudinem,
magnanimitatem et liberalitatem commoveat,
quce omnia faciunt ad bonum regimen
- Johannes de Grocheo, Ars Musicae, ca.1300
Jordi Savall, Bellaterra, Spring 2006 (translated by Jaqueline Minett)