Ramon Llull: L'ultim Pelegrinatge
Capella de Ministrers, Musica Reservata Barcelona/Carles Magraner (direction)
rec. Dormitori del Centre del Carme, Valencia, September 2015 CAPELLA DE MINISTRERS CDM1640 [3 CDs: 206:15]
Raymond Lully: The Last Pilgrimage opens with a glorious cacophony of drums, bells and various other raucous instruments, before the chorus starts in an exuberant, lively, exultant and noisy love song. This is typical of the works presented on this three-disc set (a deluxe reissue of the three individual CDs), which contrast the strident, energetic, joyful and boisterous with the gentle and lulling, performed with passion and verve on an array of mediaeval and exotic instruments by Capella de Ministrers under the direction of Carles Magraner. The singers, too – Musica Reservata Barcelona – are full of raw passion and conviction, making this a most compelling and exciting disc. The discs present mediaeval music from around the Mediterranean, in homage to the great Catalan philosopher, theologian, poet, logician and writer Raymond Lully, who travelled widely, studying Christian philosophy along with Arabian culture and Muslim theology.
The first disc is entitled Ars Antiqua, and features a mixture of troubadour songs and sacred works – including a number which will be familiar to listeners (such as Els set gotxs recomptarem and a Dansse real - of which these are superb renditions). There is also a performance of the also well-known Mayre de Deu e fylha – this time with excellent sea effects that work extremely well indeed and contribute to an immensely convincing version. Each disc is broken into sections, containing works which are appropriate to that particular area of Lully’s life: thus this initial disc includes Conversion, Study and Contemplation, and the Miramar and Montpellier Years.
The second disc bears the name Peregrinatio, and opens with the section The First Voyages, including a performance of De cuer pensieu et desirrant, in which the singer appears to employ his falsetto range to striking effect (perhaps to more closely imitate the guessed style of singing of the period). Towards the end of the disc, in the next section, entitled The Mission in Africa, we head towards the East with the recitative Taryuman al-ashwaq and the Sephardic song Mikdash.
The third disc, Mediterraneum, opens with Voyage to the East, and also covers the sections Paris and the Council of Vienne and The Voyage to his Dead. Here, we find songs from Asia Minor, Greece and North Africa, amongst further works from Alfonso X. It is, perhaps, the most exciting of all three discs.
The presentation is in a beautiful, thick, hard-backed book, as per Alia Vox releases - although it doesn’t have the lovely illustrations of the Alia Vox books – it is all texts (with translations in several languages); but it is nevertheless nicely produced and well-laid out. There is an introduction from the Executive President of the European Institute of the Mediterranean and in-depth notes on Raymond Lully’s philosophy and travels, along with a short essay on his reception in the twenty-first century – and, of course, full song and recitation texts along with notes about how the individual works relate to Lully. The only criticism I have here is that the translation is very poor indeed, which results in very badly constructed sentences, the meaning of which is sometimes extremely difficult to comprehend. In the back of the book is a list of sources and soloists for the works featured – although I would have liked a full list of what instruments and musicians were involved in each track. Overall, however, this is a rather wonderful release – full of fantastic music and fabulous music-making – exhilarating and uplifting.
Disc II: [64.19] La quinte estampie real [3.39] Laude novella sia cantata [5.27] Karitatz ez amors e fes [5.40] Apris ai qu'en chantant [3.59] De cuer pensieu et desirrant [7.48] Alpha, bovi et leoni [1.56] Laudar voglio per amore [5.07] Pus sabers no-m val ni sens [7.18] Veni Creator Spiritus [4.30] Taryurman al-ashwaq [4.28] De la flor de paradis [3.03] In virgulto gracie [3.35] La quarte estampie real [3.30] Mikdash [4.11]
Disc III: [75.19] Shatakhi Dzernapar [6.15] Zurni Trngi [3.08] Un sirventes novel volh comensar [7.21] Jhesus Cristz, filh de Dieu viu [3.36] Canco grega [3.04] Pax in nomine Domini [6.08] Derdj Zidane [5.18] Nu tret herzuo der boessen welle [5.25] Quen leixar Santa Maria [3.47] Et cler et lai [5.10] La ultime estampie real [3.46] Higaz Kabir [1.44] Mater Dei plena gratia! [4.05] Ex agone sanguinis [2.18] Com' en si naturalmente [2.07] Gloria. Spiritus et alme [3.59] Twichia Nuba Asbahan [2.40] Quant ay lo mon consirat [5.17]