Monday, October 15, 2012

The Travels of Tirant Lo Blanch: Music and Chivalrous Splendor in Medieval Spain

(image: the front page of the book-CD edition on Diverdi, www.diverdi.Com)

It is always a beautiful surprise, a unique emotion to discover new music. This world has so many treasures around for us musicologists!
My arrival in Spain was followed very soon by the discovery of a very nice new CD project under the title "The travels of Tirant lo Blanch". I listened to it very carefully, admired the sounds coming from the past, got fascinated with the mythic and historic mediaval connections. I guess mostly because in Greece we don´t have this kind of music as our tradition. This project seems to follow the strong Early Music Movement, which means a constantly faithful interpretation of music of the past by using the old instruments, reading the old manuscripts.  But, how old? If the instruments are constructed as baroque copies, is it still enough?
Responsible for the release of this album (already from 22/10/2010) is the Capella de Ministrers and the Conductor Carles Magraner. In fact it is a collection of medieval pieces, wonderfully interwoven with the concept to follow the route and path of a historic person in a symbolic way.
Tirant lo Blanch (The White Knight) is a novel written by a Valencian knight named Joanot Martorell, and was published firstly in 1490. Being quite autobiographic, the epic novel presents a knight from Brittany who travels around Europe, taking part at knight contests. Until one day he is accepted from the Byzantine Emperor as a captain of the army, and consequently helps the Empire against the invasions of the Ottoman Turks. The novel, being written so close to the times of Instanbul fall (1493), gives many evidences about real historical facts. Miguel de Cervantes became inspired by the novel on writing his Don Quixote, and cites the book as the most important piece of  literature. Today it is regarded as one of the most important medieval literature works of the Spanish speaking world.
One can find the authentic catalan text here

Back to the music, now, the whole edition is consisted of two CDs, totally forty-six different music pieces. Carefully chosen from the music gardens of the Medieval, one can enjoy exquisite European songs to exotic sounds of Ottoman Empire and North Africa. Composers like Guillaume Dufay, John Dunstable, Pere Oriola, Matthiew Johannes, Fletxa Cornago, coexist delightfully with Andalusian, Greek and Ottoman traditional songs. Apart from the songs there are instrumental parts, too, and the whole work flows peacefully to the ears, awakening memories from a distant past that one could never had! And this is exactly the beauty of Early Music!..
Above one can visit the Capella de Ministrers YouTube Channel,  where can watch moments of preparation and rehearsals of the whole project,
as well as abstracts from the recording process,

When i just clicked on the links, i had a second surprise waiting for me. One of the videos opened with the lyra de Pontos sound, played by a Greek musician, Spyros Caniaris! (This is an instrument of the Lyra Family,coming from the Greeks of the Black Sea, and Spyros Caniaris is a fusion musician  from Athens, living in Valencia).

One can listen to the work, too, by buying it, or, just have some more listening experiences thanks to this gentle YouTube user:

Living in a speedy modern world, with so many acoustic options around us, and where one can hardly hear the other, suggesting some qualitative music in low volumes always makes the difference!...



Pilar Esteban, mezzosoprano
Marta Infante, alto
Jordi Ricard, baritono

David Antich, flautas
Carles Magraner, viola d' arc
Renée Bosch, viola d´arc
Jordi Comellas, viola d´arc
Paco Rubio, cornetto
Catharina Bauml, Chirimia
Simeón Galduf, sacabuche
Jordi Giménez, sacabuche
Ignasi Jordá, exaquier y órgano
Jesús Sánchez, viola da mano
Pau Ballester, percusión

Con la colaboración de:

Magdalena Padilla, soprano
Mario Cecchetti, tenor
Mara Aranda, voz
Juan M. Rubio, arpa / 'ud
Silvia Musso, arpa
Aziz, Samsaoui, qanun
Spyros Kaniaris, lira

Carles Magraner, director

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