La Capella Reial de Catalunya, Le Concert des Nations - Jordi Savall, dir.
Battalia: Collegiale du Chateau de Cardona (Catalogne / Catalunya)
Recording dates: Requiem: (05/24/1999), Battalia: (02/11/2002)
Recording Date and Place : In Salzburg cathedral, the 24th May 1999 during the Pfingsten Barock Festival (Requiem) and the 11th February 2002 (Battalia) in the Colegiata del Castillo de Cardona (Catalunya)
Orginally from Bohemia, H.I.F. von Biber (1644-1704) was one of the most influential composers of the 17th century. He lived almost all of his professional life at the Court of Salzburg; his reputation as a violonist and his musical compositions rapidly spread throughout Europe, making him one of the founding masters of the German violin school.
"Causes and consequences" would be an apt subtitle for this CD. Battalia, composed in 1673, is a drama set to music. It consists of series of little tableaux threaded together by the action and narrated through highly original musical means which blend sound effects and popular influences.
The Requiem was created in 1687 at Salzburg Cathedral. The work gives a general impression of tranquillity, assurance and victory; it is a requiem of joy and triumph for a Christian life well-lived, rewarded by the promise of Paradise. Recorded in the cathedral in which the Requiem was created, the impressive sound quality of this CD emphasises the magnificence of Baroque religious music, which was itself a reflection of both the Church triumphant and the sumptuousness of the princely Courts of the period.
"The results are certainly atmospheric; the cathedral has an enormous acoustic in which Savall, with customary concern for beauty of sound, buildS a performance of swelling grandeur and imposing weight. Unfortunately, it also makes for a murky texture and places restrictions on tempi and interpretative detail.."
According to Roger Tellart, Savall, in his recording of Biber's "Requiem a 15" is "… very close to the Catholic spirituality of a requiem which does not lead to a vision of fear, but rather acts a a luminous service, a calm resting place, at times almost in jubilation for a Christian soul."
"Whether it be in the chromatic rise of the Introitus, in the forewarning of the Dies irae (which is not really a day of wrath) or the majestuous cort?ge of the Sanctus, the federated forces of La Capella Reial and Le Concert des Nations are providing soothing images…"
Everything would be almost perfect writes Tellart, were it not for the problems raised by a live recording session in the Salzburg cathedral. According to this reviewer there are some technical difficulties due to the fact that Savall spreads his forces across the church (on the cathedral floor and in the four organ lofts), thus leaving his singers rather vulnerable. "
"Nevertherless, concludes Tellard, these flaws are not sufficient to tarnish our happiness and the absolute necessity for such an album."
"We still have in mind the recent magnificent and highly successful " Missa
Bruxellensis" that Savall recorded under similar conditions in the Salzburg cathedral (refer to Classica no. 10(AV 9808)). That particular church has four organ lofts located at midpoint of the building allowing a polyphonic distribution of the music intended for a religious ceremony. The effect of spaciousness is thus reproduced judiciously and with a love of sound".
"… the Requiem may sound to you a bit bewildering due to its tonality and the proliferation of its sound structure. Biber innovates once again, seizes and transforms the traditional affliction (deploration in French) for this type of celebration into a hardly concealed message of hope. Savall is totally at ease in this type of atmosphere, experiencing an evident pleasure. His musicians are extraordinary virtuosos, merging with the voices in a whirlwind of colors. In a word:superb !"