Jordi Savall - Jerusalem, City Of Two Peaces: Heavenly Peace And Earthly Peace, For Voices & Ensembles, 1200 B.C
Jordi Savall - Conductor, Rebab, Vielle, Lyre, Viola, Musical Supervision, Liner Notes, Concept, Music Selection
Jordi Savall, performer, researcher, and promoter of early music, has become known for beautifully produced thematic collections organized around topics as diverse as the worlds of Miguel Cervantes, Christopher Columbus, and Caravaggio, performed by his ensembles Hesperion XX (and XXI), and La Capella Reial de Catalunya, and recorded on his own label, Alia Vox. This immensely ambitious project, Jerusalem: City of the two peaces: Heavenly Peace and Earthly Peace, consists of two SACDs and a sumptuous book in eight languages, French, Spanish, English, Catalan, German, Italian, Arabic, and Hebrew, that includes a wide assortment of intriguing essays. The project traces the history of Jerusalem from about a millennium BCE to the present, with music from both written and vernacular traditions and readings from sacred and historical documents. Savall enlists the collaboration of Israel musician Yair Dalal, the Sufi ensemble Ali Darwish, and numerous other Middle Eastern and Western musicians. The subject of Jerusalem is emotionally charged with extra-musical associations, and the selections recorded here are viscerally gripping, starting with Savall's primally cacophonous fanfare for winds and percussion depicting an ancient Israelite preparation for battle and ending with his Final fanfare "Against the barriers of the Spirit." The vocal and instrumental music of Middle Eastern folk traditions is interspersed with psalm settings, troubadour Crusader songs, readings from the Koran, the Hebrew Bible, apocryphal Christian texts, Pope Urban II's chilling call to the First Crusade, and a historical recording of a Hymn to the Victims of Auschwitz, written in 1941. The panoramic effect of this range of history and cultures is aurally mesmerizing, the level of music-making is thrilling, and there is exquisite attention paid to smallest details; the performances have all the polish and spirited vitality typical of Savall's productions. The sound of the SACDs is immaculate: clean and vividly present.
All Music Guide
Recording Date and Place : 2007-2008 Collegiale de Cardona (Catalogne). L'eglise de Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains. L'Arsenal de Metz. L'Abbaye de Fontfroide
JERUSALEM, City of the two peaces. The music of the history of Jerusalem
One of the etymologies tracing the name of the city of Jerusalem translates its Hebrew name as "the city of the two peaces", in what is a clear metaphorical reference both to "heavenly peace" and "earthly peace", the former proclaimed and promised by the prophets who lived in or visited the city, and the latter sought by the political leaders who have governed the city throughout its five thousand years of documented existence.
Sanctified by the three great monotheistic religions of the Mediterranean, Jerusalem soon became the focus of prayers and longing. Desired by all, she has been the goal, aim and destination of pilgrims of all persuasions who flock to her gates in peace, but also the objective of soldiers and armies in pursuit of war, who have besieged and burned the city, bringing ruin and devastation more than forty times throughout her long history.
Jordi Savall and Montserrat Figueras, in the company of Jewish, Christian and Muslim musicians from Israel, Palestine, Greece, Syria, Armenia, Turkey, England, France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, as well as their own ensembles Hesperion XXI and La Capella Reial de Catalunya, portray the chequered fortunes of Jerusalem - a holy city or a city bedevilled - in a frieze of texts and music evoking her protagonists. Jewish, Arab and Christian music from ancient times to the present day highlights Jerusalem as a city that looks forward to the possibility of achieving the two peaces proclaimed in its name.
-Manuel Forcano, 2008
The Power Of Music
This project was first conceived in 2007, when we were invited by La Cite de la Musique to prepare a new project (for April, 2008) based on a series of concerts on the theme of the three major monotheistic religions. After thinking it over for a few days, we realized that Jerusalem could provide the ideal subject, one which afforded us the opportunity to a create a powerful and beautiful evocation of both the grandeur and the folly that make up the history of a city, with all the complex problems of a place which, even today, continues to mark the limits and weaknesses of our civilization, particularly amid the search for a peace that is just and valid for all, and the difficulty in reaching agreement between East and West on the very principles of the true spiritual dimension of humanity. At the outset, it seemed an enormous and almost impossible challenge to evoke some of the key moments in the history and music of a city like Jerusalem, which has existed for more than 3000 years. Indeed, the space available in a discographic edition, even one that is extraordinary compared with the usual standard, is still very limited for a booklet of more than 400 pages, translated into eight languages, accompanying two SACDs of 78 minutes each.
From the very beginning, Montserrat Figueras, Manuel Forcano and I not only realized the need to evoke the city's history, which is unique in terms of its universal repercussions, but also that this evocation, which at the same time constituted a heartfelt tribute, would only be possible if it took into account the essential testimonies of each of the main peoples, cultures and religions that have shaped the city throughout its history, a history crammed full of events that have always been intensely dramatic and marked by conflict. History and mythology, legend and reality, song and music - everything in this universe seems to be synthesized through "the power of music", the essential elements of human civilization concentrated in a city which has always been a sacred, mythical place for the three major monotheistic religions.
In approaching this project, we had to assemble a group of musicians from different traditions representing the main cultures and countries that have played an influential role in the events of both the past and the present. That is why, in addition to our usual musicians from Spain, France, England, Belgium and Greece, who make up the team of vocal and instrumental soloists of Hesperion XXI and La Capella Reial de Catalunya, we invited a number of Jewish and Palestinian singers and instrumentalists from Israel, together with others from Iraq, Armenia, Turkey, Morocco and Syria, who have trained and specialized in extremely ancient musical cultures that have often been handed down via the oral tradition. It was essential to present a meaningful selection of the various musical traditions peculiar to the peoples who, throughout the long history of Jerusalem, have peopled the city with their dreams, their tragedies, their hopes and their misfortunes. This selection would not have been possible without the numerous important works of historical, musical and organological research carried out by such eminent figures as A. Z. Idelsohn, Amnon Shiloah, Samuel G. Armistead, Isaac Levy, Rodolphe d'Erlanger, Charles Fonton and R. Lachmann, in the case of eastern music (Jewish, Arab and Ottoman), H. J. W. Tillyard, in the case of Byzantine music, and Pierre Aubry and Gordon Athol Anderson in respect of music from the Crusades, and, of course, the essential contribution made by all the musicians, singers and others whose talent and experience have been decisive in bringing this project to fruition. In this context, I am thinking particularly of Montserrat Figueras, Manuel Forcano, Yair Dalal, Lior Elmalich, the musicians of the group Al-Darwish, Gaguik Mouradian, Razmik Amyan, Dimitris Psonis, Driss El Maloumi, Mutlu Torun, Omar Bashir, Begona Olavide, Pedro Estevan, Jean-Pierre Canihac and the ensemble of "trumpets of Jericho", Andrew Lawrence-King and all the vocalists and instrumentalists of Hesperion XXI and La Capella Reial de Catalunya. Never have I been involved in a project in which the personal commitment of all those taking part was so crucial and decisive.
Music opens a window suffused with emotion and light on legends, beliefs and events which constitute a fabulous distillation of life, culture and spirituality in symbiosis with what is happening in the world around us. Profoundly influenced by the historical presence of the major monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the history and musical traditions of Jerusalem are the reflection of a unique experience in which the most extreme wars and conflicts go hand in hand with some of the most sublime and spiritual deeds in the history of mankind.
In order to give shape to such a complex musical and historical programme, it was necessary to find an original structure inspired in the very sources of the subject presented here divided into seven chapters, each one containing key moments in the city's history. Three central chapters comprise a selection of the most representative music of the three main periods relevant to the three monotheistic religions.
The Jewish city is recalled, from the time of its foundation until the destruction of the temple, by the evocative sound of the shofar, a selection of the most beautiful psalms of David, as preserved in the ancient tradition of the Jews of southern Morocco, an instrumental dance and a text by Rabbi Akiba recited in Hebrew.
The Christian city is evoked from the arrival in Jerusalem in 326 of Queen Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, until the Crusaders were defeated when Saladin conquered the city, This period is represented first by one of the earliest Crusade songs, attributed to Emperor Leo VI (886-912), which is followed by the terrible call to holy war in 1095 by Pope Urban II, recited in French. The power of music deployed in the service of war is illustrated by three of the most famous and beautiful Crusader songs. The defeat of 1244 is recalled in a brief improvisation on the song Pax in nomine Domine.
Our evocation of the Arab and Ottoman city, which, in the case of the Arab period, stretched from 1244 to 1516, is effected by improvisations on the Oud, the song based on Sura 17: 1, relating the ascension of the prophet Mohammed into heaven from the Mosque of the Rock, and is completed by a sama dance (from the Suffi tradition) and the song Salatu Allah. The Ottoman period, from 1516 to 1917, is represented by the makkam Uzal Sakil "Turna" from the Kantemiroglu manuscript (17th century), the recreation of the legend of the dream of Suleyman the Magnificent (1520), recited in Turkish, and one of the finest Ottoman marches of the 16th century.
A fourth chapter is devoted to Jerusalem as a "city of pilgrimage", with three representative pilgrim songs. The first is on texts by Rabbi Judah ben Samuel Halevi, (a Sephardic rabbi, philosopher, physician and poet born in Tudela, in the emirate of Saragossa, in 1085, known as the Cantor of Zion); the second is a Cantiga by King Alfonso X the Wise (1221-1284), narrating one of the miracles of the Virgin Mary performed in favour of a woman on pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Finally, the third is on a text by the most famous of Arab travellers, the Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta (Tangiers, 1304 - ? 1377).
A fifth chapter is devoted to Jerusalem "Land of refuge and exile", with two moving songs of exile and two songs of refuge, (a song about Palestine, from the Sephardic tradition, a Palestinian "lament", a song on the theme of Armenian refugees in memory of the genocide of 1915, and a heart-rending Ashkenazy song on the genocide perpetrated by the Nazis during the Second World War).
The final two chapters, completing the seven, refer to one of the etymologies accounting for the name of the city of Jerusalem, according to which the city's Hebrew name is translated as "the city of the two peaces", a clear metaphorical reference to both "heavenly peace" and "earthly peace". The heavenly peace which serves as our prelude was proclaimed and promised by the prophets who lived in or visited Jerusalem, and it is evoked here by a Sibylline Oracle from a Jewish source dating back to the third century BC, an Arab Sufi song based on Sura I: 27, and a song on the Cathar Gospel of Pseudo John V: 4, contained in the famous manuscript of the Convent of Las Huelgas (12th century).
By way of conclusion, we evoke "earthly peace", a peace sought after by the political leaders who have governed the city over the five thousand years and more of its recorded history. We have symbolized that peace through Arab, Jewish, (Orthodox) Armenian and (Catholic) Latin "votive pleas for peace", as well as a melody handed down by oral tradition that has been kept alive to the present day in almost all Mediterranean cultures. The melody is sung individually by all the participants in Greek, Arabic (from Morocco), Hebrew, Arabic (from Palestine), Spanish, again in Greek (by a vocal ensemble), Ladino (a lullaby), by three voices (singing in Greek, Hebrew and Arabic), and is then performed in an Oriental instrumental version and, finally, it is sung by all the performers together in a choral version in which the languages are superimposed on one another, in a symbolic demonstration of the fact that, far from being a utopia, union and harmony are a reality that is attainable if we allow ourselves to experience and feel the power of music to the full. Rounding off this optimistic final expression of optimism, the "trumpets of Jericho" return, but this time they do so to remind us that human beings are still spiritually cut off from one another by too many walls, walls that must first be broken down in our hearts before they can be dismantled by peaceful means in the world around us.
In antiquity, the power of music was ever-present. Of all historical sources, the Bible provides the most important and richest vein in terms of our knowledge of music in ancient times. Music and dance played an important role not only in everyday life, but also in religious ceremonies and in battle. Indeed, it is in one of the earliest legends, in the story of the trumpets and the battle of Jericho, that we find a testimony to the power of music. Rather than music in the strict sense, it refers to intense, strident dissonances produced by several hundred instruments, so powerful that they brought the walls tumbling down.
From the very beginning, we felt that one of the most ancient instruments still extant, the shofar or ram's horn of Abraham, must have played a crucial role in that battle, alongside the ancient Oriental trumpets which are today known as anafirs. Our initial hypothesis was confirmed during our research when we read the account given by Abbot Nicholas of Thingeyrar of the Benedictine monastery of Thingeyrar, in Iceland. Abbot Nicholas travelled to the Holy Land four or six years after the composition of the Crusader song Chevalier mult estes guaritz (dated 1146), where he found the trumpets of Jericho and the shofars, together with the rod of Moses (mentioned in this song), in a chapel dedicated to Saint Michael in the Bucoleon Palace in Constantinople. This account is confirmed in the inventory of Anthony, archbishop of Novgorod, who says that it was kept between one of the trumpets of Jericho and the ram's horn of Abraham (Riant, Exuviae Constantinopolitanae, Geneva, 1878). It is impossible to define any particular notes in the score we have devised for this fanfare, since each instrument had its own distinct pitch. It is therefore an entirely random construction and layering of sounds, taking into account the characteristic language of these primitive instruments, built up on the basis of common rhythms and dynamics which, although individually precise, join together in a completely free fashion. The sound produced by the 14 instruments and the drums would need to be multiplied 30 or 50-fold in order to get some idea of the sound effect produced by the legendary trumpets of Jericho.
Yet another example of the power of music could not be further removed from the idea of violent sound. Instead of sounds that are capable of shattering material objects, this time it is a case of sounds overwhelming us with the profound emotional and spiritual force of a sung prayer. As he was about to be executed in Auschwitz, in 1941, Shlomo Katz, one of the Romanian Jews who had been condemned to death, requested permission to sing the song for the dead El male rahamim. The beauty, the emotion and the manner of singing this prayer for the dead so impressed and moved the officer in charge of the execution that he spared the man's life and let him escape from the camp. The recording that we reproduce, made some years after the event, constitutes an exceptional historical document in terms of the experience it records, as well as being a tribute to the victims and a prayer for all those who died in the camps of horror (recording on the CD accompanying H. Roten's publication on Les Musiques Liturgiques Juives, Paris, 1998). Now that we comprehend the full truth of Elias Canetti's words when he wrote that "music is the true living history of humankind, we yield to it without resistance because what it says relates to our feelings; without it, we would be left with only fragments".
Finally, from the thousand and one different stages in the rich history of Jerusalem, we have selected those that we felt to be the most significant, illustrating them through song, music and key texts, the whole forming a multicultural fresco which proposes something more than just a recording or concert programme. Music becomes the indispensable means of achieving a genuine intercultural dialogue between human beings from very different nations and religions, but who nevertheless share a common language of music, spirituality and beauty.
-Jordi Savall (translated by Jacqueline Minett)
Sao Paulo, 16th September, 2008