Miscellaneous composers

 

Broadened my horizons this evening at the Salzburg Festival, with a concert in the Salzburg University Church. The Catalan early-music specialist Jordi Savall came to town with two of his groups: the Capella Reial de Catalunya and Hespèrion XXI, and diverse instrumental soloist friends from across Asia, to perform early 16th-century music from Europe, India, and Japan (and a hint each of Mozambique and China).

The theme for the concert was the mission of St. Francis Xavier, the early Basque Jesuit sent off to convert Asia. He brought European musicians with him, and encountered music in his travels, so this concert was a re-interpretation of how that cross-cultural mix might have sounded. European music at the time was mostly improvised (the written music that has survived being only a formalized fraction of what would have been performed), but evidence exists of the manner of improvisation. Asian music was not written, but the improvisational forms have survived to the present day. So, in the end, the whole thing was a re-interpretation of a fantasy of an invention.

But it worked. Hearing how Asian instruments and musical conventions mix with European ones of the same period did produce new ways of hearing 16th-century music. For that it was a worthwhile evening.

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