Notes and Editorial Reviews
EL CANT DE LA SIBILLA
Montserrat Figueras (sop); Jordi Savall, dir; Capella Reial de Catalunya
ALIA VOX AVSA 9879 (SACD: 55:05
Text and Translation)
The Erythrean Sibyl was one of the pagan prophets that were cited by Christian writers (in this case, St. Augustine) as witnesses to the coming of the Messiah. A homily attributed to St. Augustine was read at Christmas Matins, and in the 10th century the Song of the Sibyl was sung during that Office. Later it was used on Good Friday because of its relevance to
the day of judgment. Vernacular versions have been sung in polyphony since the later Middle Ages.
This disc first appeared as Astrée E 8705 (
12:6), later reissued on Fontalis and now again in Super Audio. It offers Latin, Provençal, and Catalan examples of the song. It was followed by a second disc on Fontalis ES 9900 (20:6) containing examples from Galicia and Castile. A third disc (incorrectly characterized as the second in 23:1) on Alia Vox AV 9806 had versions from Mallorca and Valencia, in all a total of seven versions of the Song of the Sibyl. Montserrat Figueras is a superb artist who every so often gives us an extraordinary program of surpassing beauty such as this one, a point I made when I reviewed
(26:6). The seven versions of the song are fascinating, but this disc is the indispensable one of the three, for the first track is the original Latin chant. Other recordings of this chant have all been truncated, if I recall correctly, except Brigitte Lesne’s lovely version (18:5), which is complete but takes half as long to sing as Figueras’s expansive rendition. The two use different sources, Lesne using BnF lat. 1018, while Savall mentions five sources without indicating which one he has used.
The whole disc is mesmerizing. If you don’t have it already, you will find the surround sound captures the ambiance of Savall’s favorite recording venue at Cardona very aptly. Figueras is backed by the choral and instrumental capella most effectively. The 98-page booklet is much more elaborate than the original issue. This disc is a classic.
FANFARE: J. F. Weber
Works on This Recording
Cant de la Sibilla by Anonymous
Montserrat Figueras (Soprano)
La Capella Reial de Catalunya
Date of Recording: 03/1988
Venue: Collégiale romane du Château de Cardona
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