17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
This is a crowning achievement in the domain of world music from Savall and Alia Vox team following initial musical and cultural exploration of Judeo/Arab influences on the Christian world of middle ages. What started discreetly in "Isabel I, Reina de Castilla" and is explored much further in magnificent double CD "Diaspora Sefardi" comes to its natural pinnacle with this one dedicated entirely to traditional music of Mediterranean region of middle ages.
As Savall points out in the booklet, the sea that once was not just the melting pot of different cultures and traditions but the bridge and unifying force between them, since the recent Afghanistan conflict has become the division line. (For me personally this issue is particularly close to heart, as I, like many others close to me lost the country we were born in to religious conflict - I grew up on the Mediterranean coast and my musical sub conscience was shaped up to equal measure with all of these influences, abruptly cut off by the bloody war - no further proof needed that politics and culture don't mix at all).
Personal issues aside, while listening over and over again to this disc, I couldn't escape the feeling that Western (Christian?) music of the period before the Renaissance owes much more to the middle eastern culture than is today willing to admit - not so much in musical terms, but relying heavily on the archetype instruments, later on developed into recognisable forms perfectly suited for what we call today Western music. The fact that the bowing instruments were brought in from the east was one of many revelations I wasn't aware before this. I can't help myself but admiring Jordi Savall and his team for creating yet again a musical release that, for those willing to 'hear' further, cuts much deeper than the music itself.
Six musicians from Afghanistan, Morocco, Israel and Spain + Savall as the unifying force, are world class not just in their technical command of all those weird and wonderful instruments, but masters of creating images and colours in different combinations and set ups. Be it rather famous Sicilian 'Saltarello II' or frenetic 'Laili Djan' from Persia, they sway and engage with musicality brought from within by archetype musical sub-conscience from the times when this music was carried forward from generation to generation by oral tradition. It is impossible to pigeon-hole this disc, and that is the beauty of it. It is as much early music (but not the western idiom of it) as it is world music.
Sound-wise it's a pure perfection - each instrument perfectly balanced within the whole with plenty of air, focused and with natural dynamics. Quality of recording goes behind the technicalities and complements that of the musicianship perfectly.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 20 March 2011
Like so many of Hesperion XXI's recording and the meticulous research of Jordi Savall it is hard to fault the musical results on this CD. The music is fascinating. Unfortunately the disc claims to be an SACD and it is not. When I tried to play it using 5:1, it would only play on the rear speakers. It will play perfectly in standard two speaker stereo that is unfortunately not the same as 5:1. I eventually returned the recording. If you don't have a 5:1 system and don't mind just hearing it in two speaker stereo I would say it is highly recommended.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 6 August 2011
This was a new world for me! Fascinating music, played by musicians from different traditions. All this gives it the edge that music needs to be really important and interesting.