Jordi Savall, La Sublime Porte – Voix d’Istambul

George Grella

By George Grella

on 12.13.11 in Reviews
Haunting, rich and vital

Jordi Savall’s exploration of a millennia of music from the Mediterranean continues with this record, which is full of beauty and more than a hint of tragedy. This is his second visit to Istanbul; his previous, eponymous recording surveyed instrumental music, from the Crusades to the Baroque period,that came out of the mix of Ottoman, Armenian and Sephardic traditions. The “Voix d’Istanbul” on this new release are Gürsoy Dincer, Lior Elmaleh and Montserrat Figueras, the music includes traditional songs, pieces from Turkish composers of the 15th, 17th and 18th centuries, and idiomatic improvisations. The music is haunting, rich and vital, with highlights being “Buselik usules” and the Sephardic Romance “Punxa, Punxa.” There is a deeply sympathetic relationship between these musics, with Armenian tunes sounding cantorial and Turkish music full of Western European inflections, that would seem idealized, but is historically true and tinted with loss via enduring sectarian and ethnic division. Even greater is the loss of Figueras, heard here for the last time on a recording set down the summer before her death.