Monday, 19 December 2011

Montserrat Figueras

Last week brought the sad news of the death of Catalan soprano Montserrat Figueras. With her husband, master viol de gamba player and conductor Jordi Savall, Figueras opened up the world of early music to a huge audience. Their work with the ensemble Hesperion XX (later XXI) and La Capella Reial de Catalunya combined scholarly knowledge of repertoire and performing techniques with a deep personal feel for colour and expression. Most recently I listened to their Cançons de la Catalunya Mil.lenària, an exquisite treatment of traditional folksongs. From these local roots, Savall and Figueras explored intercultural musical traditions, in a prolific series of recordings and concerts drawing repertoire from the Mediterranean, the Middle and Far East and the New World. Music was the model for wider intercultural understanding. Many more informed homages to her art have been published, including this homage on the NPR music site. And here is Figueras in action, drawing our attention to every note, phrase and word with her magical art: