Ninna Nanna - Lullabies / Montserrat Figueras, Hesperion XXI

Release Date: 2/11/2003
Label: Alia Vox
Catalog Number: AVX 9826
Orchestra/Ensemble: Hespèrion XXI
Number of Discs: 1

Physical Format:

CD
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Notes and Editorial Reviews
Who doesn't love a lullaby? As a tribute "to all mothers and children", singer Montserrat Figueras offers this unusual program of 18 such songs from diverse sources and anonymous composers--Portuguese, English, Greek, Catalan, Hebrew, Sephardic, and North African--as well as pieces written by the likes of Byrd, Mussorgsky, Reger, Falla, Milhaud, and Pärt (two lullabies composed for this recording). Accompaniments show the stylish hand and always-tasteful imaginings of Jordi Savall and the instrumentalists of Hesperion XXI--viols, guitar, flutes, psaltery, harp--and, in three tracks, the piano of Paul Badura-Skoda. Although the liner notes prime us to expect very simple, repetitive tunes, Figueras transforms these ostensibly sleep-inducing songs into high, mind-and-ear-engaging art, embellishing, shaping, and imbuing them with deeply felt expression, sometimes wistful and at others fervent, but always delivered as if in intimate, personal touch with her listener(s).


And as diverse as the melodies (and languages) are, so does this repertoire give Figueras a chance to show her own considerable versatility, from the plaintive, chant-like José embala o menino (Portugal) to the extended, highly ornamented 16th century Sephardic ballad Nani, nani. Pärt's Berceuse de Noël (2002) is a gentle, sweetly rocking little song, ideally accompanied by viols, harp, psaltery, and santur; his Estonian cradle song, Kuus, kuus kallike, is as basic as it gets--an extremely simple, repetitive tune with a text of only three "words". For this last song--and for the Catalan lullaby Mareta, mareta no'm faces plorar--Figueras is joined by her daughter Arianna, an appropriate and beautiful match of voices. Mussorgsky's "With the doll" from his The Nursery and Milhaud's "Dors, dors" from his Hebrew songs--both accompanied by Badura-Skoda--are wonderful, rarely heard gems.


There are many other highlights here, and it's interesting to observe how Figueras adapts her voice and interpretive nuance to the different styles and texts. Of course, 77-plus minutes of these songs, all focused on one voice--a voice that to my ears has more edge and less warmth and softness than I'd prefer--can be a lot to take in at one sitting. But the beautiful songs and the first-rate presentation compel multiple listenings anyway, and the clear, detailed sound brings it up close but comfortably so, with natural, well-balanced instrumental timbres complementing the voices.
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
1. Cançao de embalar: José embala o menino by Anonymous
Performer: Montserrat Figueras (Soprano), Sergi Casademunt (Viola da Gamba), Sophie Watillon (Viola da Gamba), Jordi Savall (Viola da Gamba), Dmitri Psonis (Pandeiro), Arianna Savall (Triple Harp), Marc Hantaï (Flute), Xavier Díaz-Latorre (Guitar)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Hespèrion XXI
2. My sweet little darling by Anonymous
Performer: Sergi Casademunt (Viola da Gamba), Imke David (Viola da Gamba), Jordi Savall (Viola da Gamba), Lorenz Duftschmid (Viola da Gamba), Montserrat Figueras (Soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Hespèrion XXI
Period: Renaissance
3. Greek Lullaby by Traditional
Performer: Montserrat Figueras (Soprano), Pedro Estevan (Tubular Bells), Pedro Estevan (Santur), Dmitri Psonis (Santur)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Hespèrion XXI
4. Nani, nani by Anonymous
Performer: Montserrat Figueras (Soprano), Pedro Memelsdorff (Flute), Dmitri Psonis (Tubular Bells), Begoña Olavide (Psaltery)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Hespèrion XXI
Period: Renaissance
Written: by 1492 ; Spain
5. North African Lullaby by Anonymous
Performer: Pedro Estevan (Pandeiro), Montserrat Figueras (Soprano), Driss El Maloumi (Oud)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Hespèrion XXI
6. Come, pretty babe by William Byrd
Performer: Sergi Casademunt (Viola da Gamba), Imke David (Viola da Gamba), Jordi Savall (Viola da Gamba), Lorenz Duftschmid (Viola da Gamba), Montserrat Figueras (Soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Hespèrion XXI
Period: Renaissance
7. Curtio precipitato et altri capricii composti, Op. 13: Canzonetta spirituale sopra alla Nanna by Tarquinio Merula
Performer: Imke David (Lirone), Montserrat Figueras (Soprano), Andrew Lawrence-King (Double Harp), Jordi Savall (Bass Viola da gamba)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Hespèrion XXI
Period: Baroque
Written: by 1638 ; Italy
8. Mareta, mareta no'm faces plorar by Traditional
Performer: Montserrat Figueras (Soprano), Dmitri Psonis (Tubular Bells), Arianna Savall (Voice), Jordi Savall (Bass Viola da gamba), Marc Hantaï (Flute), Xavier Díaz-Latorre (Guitar)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Hespèrion XXI
Period: Renaissance
Written: circa 1700 ; Catalonia, Spain
Performer: Montserrat Figueras (Soprano), Andrew Lawrence-King (Double Harp), Jordi Savall (Bass Viola da gamba)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Hespèrion XXI
Period: Classical
10. The nursery: no 4, With the doll by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer: Paul Badura-Skoda (Fortepiano), Montserrat Figueras (Soprano)
Period: Romantic
Written: 1868-1872 ; Russia
11. Noumi, Noumi yaldati by Anonymous
Performer: Jordi Savall (Rebab), Montserrat Figueras (Soprano), Dmitri Psonis (Santur), Pedro Memelsdorff (Flute), Begoña Olavide (Psaltery)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Hespèrion XXI
12. Schlichte Weisen (60), Op. 76: no 52, Maria Wiegenlied by Max Reger
Performer: Montserrat Figueras (Soprano), Paul Badura-Skoda (Fortepiano)
Period: Romantic
Written: 1903-1912 ; Germany
13. Canciones populares españolas (7): no 5, Nana by Manuel de Falla
Performer: Montserrat Figueras (Soprano), Jordi Savall (Bass Viola da gamba), Xavier Díaz-Latorre (Guitar)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Hespèrion XXI
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1914-1915 ; Spain
14. Chants (6) populaires hébraïques, Op. 86: no 3, Berceuse by Darius Milhaud
Performer: Montserrat Figueras (Soprano), Paul Badura-Skoda (Fortepiano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1925 ; France
15. Canciónes (13) españolas antiguas: Nana de Sevilla by Federico Garcia Lorca
Performer: Montserrat Figueras (Soprano), Xavier Díaz-Latorre (Guitar)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Hespèrion XXI
Period: 20th Century
16. Christmas Lullabye by Arvo Pärt
Performer: Sergi Casademunt (Viola da Gamba), Sophie Watillon (Viola da Gamba), Montserrat Figueras (Soprano), Arianna Savall (Triple Harp), Dmitri Psonis (Santur), Begoña Olavide (Psaltery)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Hespèrion XXI
Period: 20th Century
Written: 2002 ; Germany
17. Kuus, kuus kallike by Arvo Pärt
Performer: Sergi Casademunt (Viola da Gamba), Sophie Watillon (Viola da Gamba), Jordi Savall (Viola da Gamba), Montserrat Figueras (Soprano), Dmitri Psonis (Santur), Arianna Savall (Voice), Begoña Olavide (Psaltery)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Hespèrion XXI
Period: 20th Century
18. La mare de Déu by Anonymous
Performer: Sergi Casademunt (Viola da Gamba), Imke David (Viola da Gamba), Pierre Pierlot (Viola da Gamba), Jordi Savall (Viola da Gamba), Montserrat Figueras (Soprano), Andrew Lawrence-King (Double Harp)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Hespèrion XXI
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