We knew that gambist Jordi Savall had an inquisitive mind and was always ready to generate new types of musical collaboration. Oriente Lux, ”Light from the East” takes him much further than he has ever dared to venture before, for it is songs and pieces from the traditional classical repertoire from countries or regions such as Bangladesh, Kurdistan, Syria or Iraq that we hear here, in interpretations of quite exceptional quality. Take for example (one of many) the breathtaking vocal ease of countertenor Rebal Alkhodari in a traditional Syrian song that takes him from a baritone base to an impressive falsetto stratosphere! The finale of this piece is ecumenical and unifying, with the whole orchestra and choir in symbiosis. Please note that this is not a Eurocentric crossover, but rather interpretations that respect the national traditions in question, bringing together musicians from most of these countries and European partners associated with the historical interpretation of Jordi Savall and Hesperion XXI. Orpheus 21 is the name of the ensemble here, made up of musicians who have fled to Europe from countries at war or in the throes of major socio-economic upheaval. An orchestra is made up of ouds, kanun, duduk, percussion and more. These musicians are masters of their art. Imagine if Europe’s best violinists, cellists, pianists, oboists and others had to flee en masse to another continent. There, you get the idea.
The same phenomenon is evident right here in Montreal, where a huge number of refugee artists from all over the world enrich the city’s musical life. As a result, there are more and more syncretic encounters between this creative world, which is naturally open to collaboration. The Centre des Musiciens du Monde is a fine example of the positive results that these human movements can bring (without in any way diminishing the personal tragedy experienced by each person living through these forced displacements). We have certainly not finished witnessing the fruits of these new and stimulating encounters. But, in any case, this one, orchestrated by the marvellous Jordi Savall, will remain an important milestone in this movement. Superb.