La Capella Reial de Catalunya and Le Concert des Nations are like any other large classical ensembles that might pass through the University on any given day — except that both groups specialize in early music from the Renaissance and Baroque periods. And conductor Jordi Savall, a master of the viola da gamba — the fretted, seven-string instrument that was replaced by the cello in the 17th century — is by no means a typical musician or conductor.
La Capella Reial de Catalunya, a vocal group created in 1987, and Le Concert des Nations, an orchestra that performs on period instruments that was created in 1989, are the brainchildren of Savall. Both groups are acknowledged to be some of the foremost performers of early music. But in all fairness, Savall commented that “early music” isn’t the best term to describe their work. “I think we mix many different time periods from very different cultures, presented with style for the time,” he said.
Both groups have performed numerous concerts around the world and made multiple recordings as well. The two groups recorded W.A. Mozart’s Requiem together in 1994, which received an award from the prestigious European radio station, Luxembourg Television and Radio.
Le Concert des Nations performs with period instruments from the Baroque era to give their sound a genuine feel. La Capella Reial de Catalunya is composed of a group of top-level vocalists that ranges from eight to 60 members, depending on what pieces are being performed. The singers, mostly from Spanish-speaking countries, are noted for their revival of Catalan historical music as well as their devotion to music from their respective cultures.
The groups are set to perform pieces that include The Music of Don Quixote and Monteverdi’s Madrigals of Love and War. The grouping of these two works is not coincidental; Savall explained that while the former deals with war in a “lively manner,” it is still a “tragic history” in comparison to the latter, which addresses “Greek mythological themes of war and love.”
“There is a balance between the drama and the humor. Both are a medium to understand the human condition,” Savall said.
He insisted that even an uninformed listener has much to enjoy from this concert. To Savall, the most important objective is “to have the pleasure in discovering another type of music, another type of emotion
There is always something to appreciate. You don’t need to be a musical specialist to perceive the music.”