Carnegie Hall Live: Jordi Savall And Le Concert Des Nations

Viola da gamba master Jordi Savall leads his ensemble Le Concert des Nations in a performance at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall on Apr. 16, 2015. (AJ Wilhelm for NPR)
Viola da gamba master Jordi Savall leads his ensemble Le Concert des Nations in a performance at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall on Apr. 16, 2015. (AJ Wilhelm for NPR)

When the Catalan viola da gamba player and conductor Jordi Savall brings his ensemble Les Concerts des Nations to Carnegie's Zankel Hall for a program of French Baroque composers, he'll be revisiting a corner of the repertoire that gave him his unexpected mainstream breakthrough almost 25 years ago.

Savall's robust, soulful performances appeared on the soundtrack of Alain Corneau's 1991 film Tous Les Matins Du Monde ("All the Mornings of the World"), the story of two historical French viola da gamba players and composers, the reclusive Jean de Sainte-Colombe and his student Marin Marais (played by Gerard Depardieu).

The film was a runaway hit in France and Germany, and its French Baroque soundtrack sold more than 500,000 copies in its initial release.

In a 2005 New York Times interview, Savall acknowledged the film's success in building his career. "When we gave concerts, before Tous les Matins, we had audiences of maybe 300, 500 or sometimes 1,000 people," he said. "The recordings were known to people who were interested in early music. But when we did the film, a lot of young people discovered this music and the viola da gamba. A lot."

Leading three different early music ensembles and pursuing his strong scholarly bent, Savall has since explored cross-cultural programs of Middle Eastern Sufi music, Balkan Gypsy dances, Sephardic romances, Persian melodies and 13th century Spanish dances. Savall's aims are idealistic, and through his own boutique label, Alia Vox, he produces almost annual recordings accompanied by serious annotation and lavish packaging.

The Zankel Hall program features Les Concerts des Nations, an ensemble Savall formed in 1989 with musicians from mainly Latin countries (including Spain, South America, Italy, Portugal and France). The group will take on a particularly vibrant corner of the Baroque repertoire, encompassing Sainte Colombe's knotty Concerts a deux violes égales (for two bass viola da gambas), selections from Lully's boisterous comédie-ballet Le Bourgeois gentilhomme and three of Rameau's Pièces de clavecin en concerts, which are full of novel effects, as well as courtly pieces by Couperin, Forqueray and Leclair.

PROGRAM:

• Anonymous: Concert donné a Louis XIII en 1627 (selected by André Danican Philidor)
·· Les Ombres
·· Air pour les mesmes
·· Les Nimphes de la Grenouilliere
·· Les Bergers
·· Les Amériquains

• Lully: Suite from Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme

• Lully: "Marche pour la Cérémonie Turque"

• Lully: "Premiere Air des Espagnols"

• Lully: "Second Air des Espagnols"

• Lully: "Premiere Air des Espagnols"

• Lully: "L'entrée des Scaramouches"

• Marais: Couplets de folies

• Couperin: Prelude from Deuxième concert royal

• Couperin: Muzette, "Naïvement" from Troisième concert royal

• Couperin: "Chaconne légère" from Troisième concert royal

• Marais: Sonnerie de Ste-Geneviève du Mont-de-Paris

• Rameau: From Pièces de clavecin
·· La Forqueray
·· La Cupis
·· La Marais

• Forqueray: "La du Vaucel"

• Forqueray: "La Leclair"

• Forqueray: "La Marella"

• Leclair: Sonata in D Major, Op. 2, No. 8

Copyright 2015 WQXR-FM. To see more, visit http://www.wqxr.org.

Copyright NPR. View this article on npr.org.