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The Boston Globe


Music Review

Savall’s seven re-creates golden age of consort viol

Catalan viol virtuoso Jordi Savall and his various ensembles — Hespèrion XXI, Le Concert des Nations, La Capella Reial de Catalunya — have such an extensive repertoire, from the 10th century to the 20th, and ranging from Latin America through Europe and into China and Japan, that they could perform in Boston every week for a year and not repeat a program. What Savall brought to Jordan Hall Friday was a modest version of Hespèrion XXI: a viol consort of five (including local musician Carol Lewis on bass viol) plus vihuela, theorbo, and percussion. But the sound the seven players produced was so rich and varied that it seemed an entire orchestra was onstage.

The program was also varied: “Musical Europe: The Golden Age of Consort Viol Music (1500–1700),” with sets from Renaissance Italy, Elizabethan England, Spain, Louis XIII’s France, and Germany. The viol, which probably descended from the guitar-like vihuela, emerged in the 15th century as a consort instrument in different sizes. At Jordan Hall, Savall (treble), Sergi Casademunt (tenor), Philippe Pierlot (alto and bass), Lewis (bass), and Xavier Puertas (vio-lone) played like a string quintet, a family of musicians espousing the principles of Renaissance humanism, with Xavier Díaz-Latorre adding texture on vihuela and theorbo and David Mayoral kicking the proceedings along on tambourine and drums.

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