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Ferran Savall
Mireu el nostre mar
Alia Vox

Ferran Savall is the son of the renowned early music conductor, composer, and musician Jordi Savall and the equally revered singer Montserrat Figueras. The young man has an enviable pedigree in the realm of classical music, and indeed, Ferran Savall has performed with his parents' ensembles Le Concert des Nations, and Hesperion XXI. On the haunting production Lachrimae Caravaggio, Ferran Savall's voice moves as if in a trance through the shadowy, droning improvisations under his father's direction, which becomes the audible equivalent of Caravaggio's black paint.

Mireu el nostre mar marks a bit of a departure for the Savall family's Alia Vox label, as the focus is not on the interpretation of early music or classical masterworks in the traditional sense. Instead, Ferran Savall presents a program of folk songs, many from the Catalan tradition, as well as Jewish song and the lyrics of poets. At first listen, you would be forgiven for thinking that Mireu el nostre mar was a lost gem of breezy South American pop as interpreted by the late Jeff Buckley. However, Ferran Savall's album is an indication of how broad and centuries-spanning are his musical interests.

Listen to the jazzy interplay occurring on "La perla (The pearl)," and the way that the song captures sun-drenched Mediterranean longing and love. Or how, on "Hora grave (Solemn Hour)," Ferran Savall makes the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke step out of brow-beating modernism and into a moment of real empathy. Ferran Savall's early-music experience enters into his interpretation of the Jewish lullaby "Numi Numi", and the ornamentation that he uses in his voice adds an exotic touch in harmony with the members of his band.

The last two tracks on the album, "Els Segadors (The Reapers)" and "Paris" present Savall very sparely (with piano and guitar, respectively). "The Reapers" is a gorgeous traditional Catalan song concerning injustice, and the piano tolls out with bell-like dirges as Ferran Savall sings "Take up your scythes" in admonishing the wrongs done by those who exploit the Catalan people. "Paris" presents Savall live and alone, almost in a bossa mood, once again illustrating the contradictions inherent in the deep fragility of his voice.

Your friends would never guess that many of these sultry and spiritual songs are ancient, so skillfully have they been adapted by Savall and his group. As with all Alia Vox recordings, the packaging and production put other labels to shame. Mireu el nostre is one of the most deeply-felt albums that I have heard in quite some time, with Ferran Savall emerging as a fascinating artist in his own right. - Lee Blackstone

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cd cover

"Hora Grave"


CD available from cdRoots

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