- Lachrimæ Caravaggio, for voice & strings
Jordi Savall has created another lavishly produced and sonically gorgeous album for Alia Vox. Here the theme is the art of Caravaggio, specifically, seven of his most wrenching paintings, all on Biblical or religious themes, six of them images of death, or near-death, and five of them are violent. The program booklet includes reproductions of the paintings and reflective essays by Dominique Fernandez. This collection of 30 pieces differs from many of Savall's releases in that it includes many of his original works, as well as many improvisations, in addition to only a few pieces by Renaissance composers. The consistency of idioms and the security of the performances make it virtually impossible to distinguish between the modern compositions, the improvisations and the Renaissance music. The works are unified in their spirit of lamentation, and the stellar performances by Savall's two ensembles, Le Concert des Nations and Hespèrion XXI, are characterized by great passion and purity. Alia Vox's sound is clean and present, with just enough resonance. The uncompromisingly somber tone of the album may not be to everyone's taste, but for listeners who can appreciate beautifully nuanced performances of intense and anguished music in the manner of the Renaissance, there is much to savor here.