El Cant de la Sibilla (CD)Alia Vox
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- Montserrat Figueras, La Capella Reial de Catalunya, Jordi Savall
Presentationwise, AliaVox are a class apart from the rest. With sumptuous threefold gatesleeves and extensive booklet notes the CDs prove stimulating before you even listen to them! However this particular recording is surely one of the most beautiful and finest pieces of music that I've heard in the past months, not just for its sheer haunting fantasy but also for its striking originality. The sybillic chants from Spanish monasteries of the past come alive in Jordi Savall's painstakingly colourful arrangements and the ethereal voices of the Catalunya Choir add to the sacred mysticism of the music. We have two chants here, one comes from Mallorca, the other from Seville, a city rich in historic tradition and long known as a firm embodiment of Catholic militancy ever since the days of the legendary El Cid. 'La Mallorquana' lasts around thirty five minutes and is built upon a simple melody but sung with such hypnotic regularity that the music grows in an uncanny way. Indeed the whole processional ritual, explained in the booklet, tends to come alive in the shaping of the sibyl which is also punctuated by a soprano voice. Here one has the incomparable Montserrat Figueras, the light of Jordi Savall's group, who sings the boy soprano part with an fidelity. The whole experience is quite riveting.
The Sevillian Sibyl dates from the mid 16th century. Here the orchestra is more sumptuous with percussion and other instruments prominent especially in the opening and closing Fanfares. The choral writing is similarly beautiful and there are also some passages for large ensemble that continue to fascinate especially in the central part of the work. Hats off to Jordi Savall and his Catalan musicians who have managed to recreate faithfully the mysterious and long lost sounds of this style. Alia Vox have matched the project with superb sound with the tolling of the bell remarkably tangible and the balance between choir and instruments absolutely top-notch. I await further discoveries from other European monasteries with interest and anticipation but for now the mystery of Mallorca and Seville will do fine!
- Gerald Fenech, MusicWeb International