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<<  -- 3 --  Rex Harley    DIÁSPORA SEFARDÍ


Now, however, each melody becomes enwrapped in a vocal arabesque of such complexity that it almost vanishes and, to my ears at least, the sounds being made are not only intrusive but downright unpleasant. After a while I find myself wanting to shout, 'For heaven's sake, just sing the notes!' This repertoire suffers especially, in that the haunting beauty of much of the material lies in its essential simplicity.

If, unlike me, you are one of Montseratt Figueras's fans -- and they must exist -- you will love this disc whatever I say. If you do not know her work, and want to sample both her and Hesperion XX, as they used to be called before the millennium, then the best way is to get hold of the ultra-bargain 8 CD set from Virgin: España Antigua. This too includes Sephardic songs, though from the period prior to the diáspora.

If you simply want an introduction to the music of the Sephardim, you can do no better than the excellent Naxos disc: Sephardic Romances, performed by Ensemble Accentus, directed by Thomas Wimmer. The vocalist, Carmen Cano, has a voice whose timbre and tonal qualities are not very different from Figueras, but with her it is much easier to concentrate on what is being sung, rather than the idiosyncrasies of the singer. You also get the excellent percussion work of Pedro Estevan, the same percussionist who plays with Hesperion XXI.

It should be said that Diáspora Sefardí is a most attractively presented set, both visually and in terms of the full texts and informative essay contained in the accompanying booklet.

Copyright © 10 November 2002 Rex Harley, Cardiff, UK


Diáspora Sefardí - Romances & Música Instrumental

AV9809 A+B Stereo (2 CDs) 64'30"/65'18" - TT 129'48" 1999 Alia Vox

Montserrat Figueras, canto, Hespèrion XXI, Jordi Savall, dirección

DISC A, Por que llorax blanca niña - Romances Vocales: El moro de Antequera (Rhodes), Levantose el Conde Niño (Salónica), El Rey de Francia (Esmirna), Por allí pasó un cavallero (Turquía), Por que llorax blanca niña (Sarajevo), La guirnalda de rosas (Rhodes), Nani, Nani (Marruecos), El Rey que tanto madruga (Sofía); DISC B, Las estrellas de los cielos - Música Instrumental: Las estrellas de los cielos / Yo m'enamori d'un aire (Alejandría?), En la santa Helena (Sofía), A la una yo nací (Sarajevo), Improvisación, Paxarico tu te llamas (Sarajevo), Yo era niña de casa alta (Esmirna), Longe de mi tu estarás (Sofí), Hermoza muchachica (Jerusalén), Axerico de quinze años (Salónica?), Improvisación sobre 'Axerico'




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