Spain to dominate trio's performance

March 04, 1994|By Patrick Hickerson | Patrick Hickerson,Contributing Writer

For its second consecutive season, the Candlelight Concert Society's early music offering will have a Spanish flavor.

Hesperion XX, a trio that plays Western music composed before the 19th century, with a slant toward Spanish works, will perform at 8 p.m. tomorrow at Smith Theatre, Howard Community College.

The group is slated to play 12 works by Marais, Caccini, Kapsberger, Hume, Hidalgo, Duron, Marin and Merula.

Last season, the Waverly Consort, performed "The Year 1492: Spanish Music in the Time of Columbus" during commemorations for the 500th anniversary of the explorer's arrival in America.

Hesperion XX was formed in 1974 by Barcelona natives Jordi Savall and Montserrat Figueras. Its third member, Norwegian Rolf Lislevand, joined the married couple more than five years ago.

Robert Aubry Davis, radio host of the P.M. Show, a classical music program on WETA radio in Washington, said that the trio's contribution to music is significant.

"It's really enormous. It's profound Catalan nationalism," he said. "They promote the Catalan language and music."

Mr. Savall, who was influenced by fellow Catalan and cellist Pablo Casals, plays the viola da gamba, a

bass member of the viol family that has the range of the cello.

"He's the greatest performer on viola de gamba since the Baroque era," said Mr. Davis, who will lead a free "Face the Music" session 1 1/2 hours before the performance at Smith Theatre.

Ms. Figueras sings soprano for the group and Mr. Lislevand plays guitar and theorbo, a large 17th century lute with a double neck and two sets of strings.

Mr. Savall directs two other ensembles: La Capella Reial, of which Ms. Figueras is a principal member, and the Deutsches Barok Collegium in Heidelberg. In 1988, the French Ministry of Culture honored him as an officer in the Order of Arts and Letters.

The group takes it name from the Greek word "hespera" for west. "Hesperia" was the ancient name for the Italian and Iberian peninsulas.

When asked to compare tomorrow's act with last season's, Mr. Davis offers a culinary metaphor.

"The Waverly Consort -- they're more polished, like white rice. . . . Hesperion XX, that's brown rice. It's more authentic and more nourishing," he said.

The group is probably best known for providing the soundtrack to the 1992 film, "Tous les Matins du Monde," on the life of 17th century musicians Marin Marais and Sainte Colombe. The movie, which used the gamba as a central instrument, starred Gerard Depardieu and his son, Guillaume. Mr. Savall was a consultant.

Bonita Bush, executive director of the Candlelight Concert Series, said she added the group this season after she heard the soundtrack of "Tous les Matins du Monde."

"It was wonderful," she said.

Ms. Bush said that the An die Musik record store in Ellicott City will sell compact discs of Hesperion XX and Jordi Savall after tomorrow's concert. The ensemble has made over 20 recordings for the EMI, Philips and Archiv labels.

Mr. Davis said that tomorrow's audience can expect to hear music mostly from the area where Hesperion XX began.

"They're going to hear music from Spain in the "Golden Era" [16th and early 17th centuries] and some from the Baroque," Mr. Davis said.

The Candlelight Concert Society will present Hesperion XX at 8 p.m. tomorrow in the Smith Theatre at Howard Community College.

Tickets are $16 for general admission, $13 for seniors and $8 for students.

Information: 715-0034.

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