"Programmatically conceived in the same vain as it's predecessor on Alia Vox (Folia 1490-1701 AV9805), 'Altre Follie' traces the development of the renowned "Folia" progression which was to be the source of inspiration for scores of compositions, spanning 5 centuries and culminating in the oeuvres of composers such as Nielson and Rachmaninov. As on the previous disc, the arrangement of the selected material is primarily chronological, although here there is greater emphasis on solo contribution. The outstanding calibre of the individual performers ensures the resounding success of this decision, most obviously in the virtuosic fireworks of Manfredo Kraemer (violin), Rolf Lislevand (guitar/theorbo) and Michael Behringer (harpsichord).
In truth though, this is probably not the kind of CD which is best appreciated from end to end, given the fact that much of the 'variation' is (inevitably) achieved in these works by means of rhythm or surface decoration rather than harmonic elaboration. In this respect, Santiago de Murcia's 'Gallegas' - significantly bearing a strong resemblance in places to Martin y Coll's 'Diferencias Sobra La Gayta' (i.e. NOT 'La Folia'), c.1700 - provides a welcome relief from the prevalent similarity of keys and motifs, and Savall clearly thought so too given that he avoids Murcia's much more faithful representation of the progression, entitled 'Folias Ytalianas' . Subtle variety could, in fact, have been achieved in other ways, for example, by drawing upon works which exploit changes in either ensemble (e.g. Ribayaz, 'Folias' ['Luz y Norte...', 1677] for harp and guitars) or style (e.g. the overtly French setting by Jean Henri d'Anglebert ['Pieces de Clavecin', 1689]).
Musicologically the CD presents few major difficulties, and as an overall result it is a praiseworthy fusion of stylish playing within a historically informed backdrop. Track 1, however, is a notable exception. Admittedly, it is 'an improvisation', but one nonetheless unashamedly based on the 'Cachua Serranita' preserved in the Codex Martinez Companon of c.1783-5 (Tomo II, fol. 192). The presence of any viol in such a late work would be problematic, but is surely even more so in one with a specific performance note ("...qe cantaron, y baylaron '8' pallas" - 'pallas' signifying the young women who sang and danced in commemoration of the feast of the 'Virgen de la Puerta' which the text concerns) in a collection copiously illustrated with images of the musicians/instruments who performed this music.
Still, this CD can be easily recommended - one would expect no less from Savall, of course - even if it is perhaps best enjoyed in small sections."
Jean Bouchenoire | 11/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This great music has survived 500 years of man's madness and destruction for our enjoyment. The quality of interpretation is worth five stars. Classical music at its best, the combination of instruments and perfomers makes it perfect music to listen again and again until you have captured all the sounds and identified each instrument. Great to listen to on an Ipod or a superior sound system."
An expanded reprise
Stephen A. Haines | Ottawa, Ontario Canada | 08/18/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In the fictional account of Marin Marais' life, his mentor commands him to "improvise on The Spanish Follies". The implication is that by the mid-17th Century any string musician, aspiring or established, should be able to launch into one of the many versions of this ancient Iberian tune. Jordi Savall, who has already produced a collection of "The Follies" ["La Folia"] including a version by Marais, has assembled a new set of interpretations. As usual with Savall, those "interpretations" from composers represented on the previous CD and this one are subtle, but they are there. There's no question this disc is unique.
As with the earlier CD, the order of presentation is roughly chronological, with the first being something of a surprise. It's a Peruvian version of the dance extracted from a 17th Century collection. The use of Amerindian instruments in a genre generally overwhelmed by European interpretations perks the listener's attention. Savall also skips over France [enough Marin Marais?] to tap Britain's John Playford's 1684 version for this set. That side trip accomplished, Hesperion XXI returns to the Mediterranean to present familiar figures such as Mudarra, Correlli and Vivaldi. It is the latter's "Sonata" on La Follia which rightly concludes the set. Vivaldi's version must have been something along the lines of the original dance, but with fuller orchestration. The term "folia" is Tuscan for "mindless" or "crazy". Vivaldi's approach starts with a rather sedate, morose opening, but builds to an almost crashing crescendo at the conclusion. It is the favourite of many, and rightly so. Vivaldi's finale certainly reflects the original phrase.
The musicians of Hesperion XXI show a shift in emphasis from the group Savall assembled for La Folia in 1998. Percussionist Pedro Estevan has been replaced by David Mayoral and Marc Clos. Philippe Pierlot, who drifts in an out of Savall's ensembles has returned for this CD. The real change however, is the introduction of Manfredo Kraemer from Musica Antiqua Koln. The voice of the violin in this collection is anything but discordant, even if it seems novel. Assigned the leading string in five of the fifteen pieces rendered here - mostly later composers - Kraemer brings an additional vigour to the renditions.
It need not be said that the performances are flawless - this is, after all, Jordi Savall. The recording is equally precise and well up to Alia Vox's high standards. As usual with their productions the sound is clear, crisp and the listener is left with needing nothing more than time to listen to this disc often. If there's any shortcoming in this CD, it's the insistence on the notes writers to incorporate original texts along with the translations. Given that six languages are represented, this seems a wasteful use of space. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]"
Best Vivaldi Folia
Alexander Mendez | South Pasadena, CA United States | 07/31/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Of all of the recordings of Vivaldi's Folia, this is the one that I am most pleased with on account of the fury of the playing style and the warm, woody sound of the authentic instruments."