jordi savall on npr music: "honey, blood and harmony"
In March Jordi Savall found time just before his concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall for an interview with Arun Rath on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered. The show focused on his latest release, Bal-Kan: Honey and Blood, a 3-CD set that explores the spellbinding music of a region that has always had more than its share of human and historical drama. Joined by guest musicians from the Balkans, Savall traces the cycles of life, structured around the four seasons of the year and the corresponding seasons of human life. The box set, released on Savall's own label Alia Vox, continues his legacy of producing projects that bring together artists from disparate cultures, sometimes even those in conflict with each other.
Bal-Kan follows Savall's 2013 release Esprit Des Balkans, which was a Critics Choice in Gramophone, and described as "something genuinely new and outstandingly vital." He remained drawn to the area's music, but as he describes in the NPR interview, the idea for Bal-Kan was also inspired by a memorial concert in Sarajevo, in which he gathered Serbians, Bosnians, Armenians, Turks, Sephardic Jews and Christian to perform together. "'It was clear to see in the ambience was a certain electricity.' ...But [Savall] says that after only a few hours of rehearsal, the atmosphere had completely changed. Between the different ethnicities, above the different melodies, a universal language took hold — a language common to all musicians."
Arun Rath continues:
The three CDs of Bal-Kan come in a small book fit for the coffee table, filled with essays on the music, art culture and history of the region, along with photos and art reproductions.
His last several projects have been issued this way. It's all part of a master plan by Savall: In this day of downloads, he's trying to revive the idea of a record album as a thing to be held and experienced.
"This is something you can take your time to read, to listen," he says. "I think it's also important to bring to the music all the elements to understand the music — to know about the history, about the political situation. What are these societies? What are these people? What they represent in our world today, no?"
"A characteristically elaborate Jordi Savall production: three discs...and a weighty, lushly illustrated book, all designed to illuminate several centuries of Balkan music. Overwhelming, fascinating."
- New York Times
"By mingling richly multi-Balkan music sweeter than honey with tones and drones thicker than blood, Savall's becomes the voice of memory as we now need it."
- Los Angeles Times