Performance Monday, April 13, 2015 | 7:30 PM

Jordi Savall

The Spirit of the Viol

Weill Recital Hall
Some of the most passionate and personal music of the Baroque was written by French composers who played the viola da gamba. The instrument and music by two of its greatest practitioners, Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe and Marin Marais, will be featured along with other French masters. Cited for his “soulful sound and seamless phrasing” (The New York Times), Jordi Savall performs this gorgeous music.

Part of Salon Encores.


  • Jordi Savall, Viola da Gamba


  • SAINTE-COLOMBE LE FILS Prelude in E Minor
  • MARAIS "Marche Persane dite la Savigny" from Suite No. 7, Cinquième livre
  • MARAIS Sarabande à l'espagnol from Suite No. 6, Deuxième livre
  • MARAIS Musette and Tambourin from Suite d’un goût étranger, Quatrième livre
  • SAINTE-COLOMBE LE FILS Fantaisie en Rondeau
  • SAINTE-COLOMBE "Les pleurs"
  • BACH Bourrée II from Cello Suite No. 4 in E-flat Major, BWV 1010 (transposed to G Minor; with improvisations)
  • MARAIS La musette from Suite No. 7 in G Major, Troisième livre
  • MARAIS Musette from Suite No. 7 in G Major, Troisième livre
  • DE MACHY Prelude in D Minor
  • MARAIS "Les voix humaines" from Suite No. 3, Deuxième livre
  • MARAIS Musette No. 28 from Suite No. 4 in A Minor, Quatrième livre
  • MARAIS Musette No. 29 from Suite No. 4 in A Minor, Quatrième livre
  • MARAIS "La sautillante" from Suite No. 4 in A Minor, Quatrième livre
  • HUME Selections from Musicall Humors
    ·· A Souldiers March
    ·· Captaine Humes Pavin
    ·· Souldiers Galliard
    ·· Harke, harke
    ·· Good againe
    ·· A Souldiers Resolution
  • ANON. The Bag-Pipes Tuning
    ·· A Pointe or Preludium
    ·· The Lancashire Pipes
    ·· The Pigges of Rumsey
    ·· Kate of Bardie
    ·· A Toye
  • TRAD. (Irish) "The Cup of Tea"
  • TRAD. (Scottish) "Regents Rant"
  • TRAD. (Irish) "Crabs in the Skillet"
  • TRAD. (Scottish) "The Sword Dance"
  • TRAD. (Scottish) "Lord Moira"
  • TRAD. (Scottish) "Lord Moira's Hornpipe"

  • Encores:
  • TRAD. Celtic Set (Morrison Jig)
  • TRAD. Variations and Improvisations on a French Bretagne Lullaby

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.


  • Jordi Savall

    For more than 40 years, Jordi Savall, one of the most versatile musical personalities of his generation, has rescued musical gems from the obscurity of neglect and oblivion and given them back for all to enjoy. A tireless researcher of early music, he interprets and performs the repertory both as a violist and a conductor. His activities as a concert performer, teacher, researcher, and creator of new musical and cultural projects have made him a leading figure in the reappraisal of historical music. Together with Montserrat Figueras, he founded the ensembles Hespèrion XXI (1974), La Capella Reial de Catalunya (1987), and Le Concert des Nations (1989), with whom he explores and creates a world of emotion and beauty shared with millions of early-music enthusiasts around the world.

    Through his essential contribution to Alain Corneau's film Tous les matins du monde, which won a César Award for the best soundtrack; his busy concert schedule (140 concerts per year); his recordings (six albums per year); and his own record label, ALIA VOX, founded with Ms. Figueras in 1998, Mr. Savall has proven not only that early music does not have to be elitist, but that it can appeal to increasingly diverse and numerous audiences of all ages.

    After finishing his cello studies at the Barcelona Conservatory in 1964, he embarked on teaching himself the viola da gamba and performing early music with the group Ars Musicae. In 1968, he moved to Switzerland to further his music studies at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, where he taught and gave master classes until 1993. He is currently a visiting professor at The Juilliard School. He has recorded and released more than 200 albums that cover the Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, and Classical music repertories, with a special focus on Hispanic and Mediterranean musical heritage. His albums have won many awards and distinctions, including the MIDEM Classical Award, an International Classical Music Award, and a Grammy Award.

    Mr. Savall has described music as "one of the most universal means of expression and communication," adding that "the measure of its importance and significance cannot be gauged according to the criteria of evolution in musical language, but rather according to its degree of expressive intensity, inner richness, and humanity." His concert programs have made music an instrument of mediation to achieve understanding and peace between different and sometimes warring peoples and cultures. Accordingly, guest artists who appear with his ensembles include Arab, Israeli, Turkish, Greek, Armenian, Afghan, Mexican, and North American musicians. In 2008, Mr. Savall was appointed European Union Ambassador for intercultural dialogue and, together with Ms. Figueras, was named as an Artist for Peace under UNESCO's Goodwill Ambassadors program.

    Mr. Savall's artistic career has been regarded as one of the driving forces behind the revival of early music in Europe, the New World, and the Mediterranean; he is a leader in the study, performance, conducting, and understanding of diverse musical traditions in a far-reaching intercultural dialogue that transcends all borders. His prolific musical career has brought him the highest national and international distinctions, including honorary doctorates from the universities of Évora (Portugal), Barcelona, Louvain (Belgium), and Basel (Switzerland); the order of Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur; the Praetorius Music Prize, awarded by the Ministry of Science and Culture of Lower Saxony; the Gold Medal of the Generalitat of Catalonia; and the prestigious Léonie Sonning Music Prize, considered the Nobel Prize of the music world. 

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Fantaisie en mi mineur (Arr. Jordi Savall after Mr. de Sainte Colombe le fils)
Jordi Savall, Viola da Gamba

At a Glance

The viola da gamba, or bass viol, is often thought of as the predecessor of the modern cello. In fact, however, it is more closely related to the lute than to the violin. During the 17th and 18th centuries, members of the viol and violin families coexisted, but the latter eventually won out, thanks in part to their greater dynamic range. In the 1690s, British music writer Roger North reminisced about his grandfather, who “play’d on that antiquated instrument called the treble viol, now abrogated wholly by the use of the violin.” The old-fashioned viol consort already sounded strange to North’s ears, “being an interwoven hum-drum, compared with the brisk battuta [‘beat’]” of the violin, viola, and cello.

As tonight’s program demonstrates, however, the viol tradition was very much alive and thriving in France and England when North wrote those words. The French viol school, in particular, continued to produce composers and virtuosos of the first rank; Marin Marais, the greatest viol player of his day, occupied a place of honor in Louis XIV’s musical household. The instrument that Jordi Savall plays was made by Barak Norman in London in 1697, another indication that the market for viols and viol music remained strong long after the violin began encroaching on its territory. Much of the solo music written for the bass viol in its heyday, with its dance-like character and elaborate improvised ornamentation, overlaps with the folk repertory of the Celtic fiddlers and harpists represented on the second half of the concert.
Program Notes


Before Bach
This performance is part of Before Bach, and Early Music Instrumental.

Part of