Friday, July 28, 2017

The tempest in Jordi's "Kumbaya" Teapot

«...My point is not a personal attack on Jordi Savall, it is rather a criticism accusing a part of his activity that has a negative influence on the work and the research of so many others who follow a path of rigor, study and intellectual honesty...»

Open letter to Jordi Savall, and what follows

By Roberto Gini · published Thursday, July 27, 2017
The following text is actually made up of three "posts" by the violist and cellist Roberto Gini, a former student and colleague of Jordi Savall, published on Facebook on July 19 , 21 and 23, 2017 , in reaction to an interview that Jordi Savall gave To the Italian newspaper La Stampa, entitled "Classical music has no future. She no longer knows how to create. We only translate them, with the agreement of Roberto Gini, because they reflect a complex, nuanced thought that deserves to be meditated by any amateur of ancient music. However, we must read the entirety to grasp the thought, because they are indeed "posts Facebook" at the beginning, and hot reactions, where the nuance does not come in the first lines but rather in the later clarifications.

No, this time no (July 19)

It is too easy, the exits with easy affirmations, the statements of great interpreters and intellectuals, as assured as they are empty. You present yourself to the world from the top of your sprawling networks, like the man of great artistic values, whereas you yourself, dear Jordi, are one of the artisans of decadence you claim to denounce.
"" Great performers ... but unable to improvise, "you talk about it, you have falsified the repertoire for decades, offering the public and younger generations menus with exotic titles, in which the chef always season dishes Similar but abundantly spiced to make believe that they are authentic recipes, in the name of an exalted diffusion of musical culture based on feint, on trade?
Your recipes, you always knew how to sell them at a good price, Jordi, and you did well from your point of view; But you can not be noticed by lamenting that in music "routine prevails"! You were one of the most brilliant, genial, imaginative and talented "routine"! You played without worrying about the instruments you used, ignoring the fact that your artistic stature was a point of reference for so many others who grew up in your shadow, becoming more than anything else Little monkeys rough about what you showed them.
You have built a non-existent repertoire, which has become paradoxical enough so that in the end you probably believe it authentic yourself. You have stopped studying the instrument which, in the distant past, you played wonderfully to adapt yourself to an approximation unworthy of the morgue that dominates you; You have built your profitable personage, who, like a sort of prophet, walks in the academic circles in which, with wide open mouths, one hopes for truths which, for the most part, are the art of improvisational theater. I do not allow you to say that "at the moment we westerners have ceased to be creative in the field of musical interpretation." Maybe you say it because in your isolation from photography guru (which is the limited world of agencies, agents and high-level merchants that are your life), you do not have the time or the will to Listen to the creative people who continue to be young or old.
You do not know the music that others do, those who are more serious than you and much less trades, or not at all; You are not aware of the aspirations that so many young people cultivate day after day, because when you meet them, you are only concerned with reciting your part, that of the great artist, the intellectual, the human genius Which tends to the salvation of somebody else.
However, yes, music (not just classic) is in decline; The world, society and civilization are in decline: but you are not the one who can have a quiet conscience by affirming this state of affairs. You recite your character, and it succeeds well because you are (or you will have been) an artist, with a capital letter. But you're a rogue, and you know very well that we know you well. Why do not you come and tell me and me that we Westerners have ceased to be creative in the field of musical interpretation?
Dear Jordi, "the meaning and value of classical music are in decline" thanks also to your contribution, to your somewhat fraudulent Follie that you have pastiches for years, to your Tarentelles, to these castanets of which you accompany the music Of Marais, to your Barak Norman with seven strings with which you play Ortiz accompanied with all possible instruments except that requested by the author, to the viola Italian six-strings amplified with which, conversely, you played music French to Bologna, to your mixed salads of programs for perfumery of department stores, to your approximations, to the hard face with which you know to communicate the public by selling to him commercial products so full of all things varied where everyone recognizes something and has l The illusion of having participated, by understanding it, in an exceptional musical event.
You are a Dulcamara like Giovanni Allevi, with the difference that you have talent to resell, while he does not. And in fact, you knew how to sell your talent at the price of gold. Look around you: see further than the damage you have caused and try to say once again that classical music is in decline. Personally, I am not prepared to accept these statements of preachers, and if I have been silent until now, it is only because I have digested with great fatigue my disillusionment, that of Someone who studied with you until graduation and who saw you as a master. It was difficult. Difficult to live the resentment of the one who sees in you the protagonist of the corruption of the purest artistic ideals, while at the same time nourishing a feeling of gratitude and true affection, it is almost heartbreaking. And I spent years ruminating these two opposing feelings. Now I am silent, and I want to tell you my profound disillusionment, and the contempt of the musical and artistic world, with a tiny one, that you represent. You, your polluting products and what followed, you pushed me to no longer love the instrument itself that I wanted to learn with you. The young musicians were born with your caravans of music unclassifiable and breathed it from their beginnings, believing it true. We, no, because we knew and made ours what was before, and what you were before. The appearance of your last pontifical truth has kindled in me the ultimate rage, a rage and an indignation that I can no longer contain.
Who knows if these words will ever reach you? I do not believe. There is not much that gets you apart from the contracts you have to sign. It does not matter.

But Jordi Savall, it's not that (July 21)

Many of those who replied and commented on what I wrote, sharing my position and my rage as an artist, knew Jordi Savall only partially; By his name, his recent discography, his beautiful old records which contrast violently with the repetitive and commercial programs that have marked his activity and by these species of musical drifts to which he has let go a good part of his musical career from now on.
While remaining firmly on my position and on my negative opinion, and in the light of these reactions which respond to my disillusionment, I feel duty bound to speak of the Jordi, to which I shall nevertheless always remain grateful - as I have already mentioned That I wrote - and that is the other part of the contradiction lived these years.
I knew first and foremost a generous, generous and disinterested person. I was not yet 18 when I met him in Milan, after a concert he gave at the Pier Lombardo Theater (today Franco Parenti), at a time when the passion for the music of the past and for the Viola da gamba had already inflamed me. I expressed my aspirations to him and invited him to his home in Basel. He gave me free classes (lunch at home included) during the months preceding the entrance exam. He told my perplexed parents (who were not convinced) that his professors, when he was in the stage of life that I lived at the time, had never paid for their lessons. It would have been a lack of gratitude, he said, if he had not acted in the same way, as if it were due to the memory of August Wenzinger, Supported and assisted. Recognition is transmitted from teacher to student, as a human and spiritual baggage. The same goes with my students.
I immediately began to play Hesperion XX, three months after my admission to Basel; We recorded "Music of Joye". Apart from the decisive impulse that Hesperion XX offered to my career and that of colleagues a little older than me, the help that Jordi and Monsterrat gave me in the course of my training in Basel was daily. I do not count the number of times I have been eating, the lessons of Italian (I was then an illiterate little boy, supposing that I was no longer) that Montserrat paid me with pennies that I Spent on books, the evenings where they "hired" me as baby sitter of little Arianna, the opening of all her library of music and photocopies that allowed me to copy and which I still jealously keep, the recommendation Of my ability in the direction of the Schola so that I could obtain scholarships that were offered to me "at loss" by the Canton of Basel (I was not from a rich family, my family made major efforts For me to continue my studies). I remember his two-and-three hours of sleep a night, when he was building what he has become, with stubbornness, constancy and extraordinary strength of soul.
And Hesperion XX was what allowed all of us to get to know and access the centers of teaching of ancient music in Europe. I can not fail to feel these circumstances when I think back to my teaching in Milan in 1979: I was twenty-one.
In spite of a professor-student relationship not always serene (and even very complicated at times), for me the years in Basel were not only determining musically and professionally but joyful in their whirlwind. These were the years of the great discovery of everything, of construction, of novelty, of the most passionate research. These were the years in which everything concerning the "Historische Aufführungspraxis" lived the summit of its flowering, in tragic contrast to today's reality which is unconscious, uncultivated, free, false and not at all "Historische" , Also thanks to the commercial products of which Savall was a great exporter.
Despite this, there is a Jordi Savall that one must know, even if it seems to have been lost. It would make me pain-reduced to my outlet and my indignation-that we do not know of him that aspect of which I remember (I dare say which we remember) and which nourishes my affection. It would be displeasing to me that the younger than I would retain of him a negative judgment, and that this negative judgment was the unique identifier of a person, a musician.
The history of musical interpretation is another thing, and herein lies the burning conflict between feeling and music; The first is alive, the second is intractable. The indignation I felt when reading yesterday the contents of this bad interview at La Stampa is very lively, and I do not withdraw what I expressed yesterday in reply. I would not wish, however, to conceal the good feeling which, beside indignation, I should like to convey. I can not allow my rage and my ruthless analysis of the Savall phenomenon to leave no room for the other that deserves to be known.

Further details (23 July)

My point is not a personal attack on Jordi Savall, it is rather a criticism accusing a part of his activity that has a negative influence on the work and the research of so many others who follow a path of rigor , Study and intellectual honesty.
I also want to say that the Italian language in which I express myself (I apologize, but I did not expect to receive so much interest) is also a language, and the Italians who read my writings understood That the word "thug", in the context in which it is found, is not insulting, and even rather debonair. "Thug", that's how my grandmother and my parents always called me, smiling. It is an affectionate expression, even if it contains a reproach. I want too much good in Jordi to use insulting terms, and besides, it would not be my kind.
Speaking of the viola da gamba, for me the question is not in the use of a viola inappropriate to concerts or recordings, but in the fact that the choices of a certain instrument for a violist are preponderant. For example, the Italian viola of the sixteenth century has nothing to do with the French viola of the eighteenth century.They resemble each other vaguely, but they are different instruments. Between Ganassi and Forqueray, there are actually two centuries. I think that a luthist would be very perplexed when seeing Hopkinson Smith, the sacred monster of the lute, use a baroque archiluth to play Francesco da Milano. But I repeat, it is not a question of arguties, but of the essence, of the true meaning of all the research that developed under the name of the renaissance of "Early Music". What, if not, would all these studies, all these exciting and tiring researches have served? And for me, what meaning would the training course have just ended with Jordi Savall? And by disregarding strictly instrumental (no) details, does not the instrument with which we present ourselves to the public become a matter of professional and artistic ethics, especially when we are conscious of being a great authority in The domain, which many will imitate, will take for example, because they will believe in our authority? Is not this approximate, guilty approximation, the decadence that marks the performance of music of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (to quote a particular historical period)?
One quotes the beautiful recordings of Couperin, Marais, Beethoven realized by Jordi. This is the music to which, as an artist, he could have dedicated his career, instead of a purely commercial path disguised as ideals of Oriental-Western dialogue and dozens of other inventions in which something factitious resonates with every phrase of These interviews. They are commercial products: it is the commercial products that are asked for - or that we know they like - and on which an entrepreneurial genius, like him, understood that one could easily have taken on The audience last, on the organizers and artistic directors in the first place. But, like all of us, Jordi Savall certainly would not have obtained the success and the market he obtained without this easy and picturesque element, which undeniably attracts much more applause and much more. Public than Marin Marais and Couperin. Except for the exotic Marin Marais, with the boumboum in the Tartar March, castanets in the Folies of Spain, and so on.
The choice is between career and money on the one hand, ethics and much weaker media presence (market) on the other. Very few have managed to engage in both paths at the same time while being musicians of an unquestionable stature. Very few in ancient music have pursued authentic research in all their nuances throughout their artistic life: search for timbre, expression, the discovery, over the years, of the probable meaning of the notes that one plays. I recognize myself among those (I could not teach if that was not the case) and I claim the right to criticize with ferocity the assertions - such as those of the interview I am charging - that, although Indirectly, are prejudicial or at least very reductive of my intellectual journey. We do not need castanets and drums beaten by picturesque characters to captivate the audience. We seek the "normality" of the musical language evoked by the instruments for which it was thought. We want to play music that we find beautiful and sensible for what it is, without sweetening it, without distorting it by exoticism. Above all, we seek to play authentic music. Everything is here. But we can not always: our way of playing and singing is considered poor, dry, deprived of the captivating, "Mediterranean" crowd that the crowd seeks in the music of Monteverdi (a Lombard who has never seen the Mediterranean Life and which has nothing Mediterranean) or Frescobaldi (born in the mists of Ferrara and emigrated to Rome).But it is Italy of postcard that appeals: that of pizza-Vesuvius-gondola-basil-lemon perfume.
She does not exist ? Then we create it, as we build the other postcards: follies to Spanish, Middle Eastern improvisations, Ottomans, these exotic names (which I call "perfumery") which, printed on the programs, guarantee An ethnic-fusion menu played on a Barak Norman or on an unidentified viola (viola soprano) top.
When I speak in the plural (we play, we seek), I speak of musicians of all ages that I feel close to my sensitivity and aspirations, colleagues or pupils (or future colleagues).
In a comment I read was a fair remark. Jordi Savall has the right to propose what he wants and what he believes: his programs "mergers", his "musical journeys". But he has to be clear about what he is proposing. He must be honest enough to cite exactly the origin of the music, to say quietly (and nobody criticizes it for that) that he proposes elaborations, his improvisations, his personal adaptations, his transcriptions, his personal creations on The basis of this or that tradition. Not "old music", because, quite simply, it is not. It 's something ; It is a product of which we do not really know, when we listen, what we are listening to. But it pleases, and it seems that this suffices for some. I do not condemn his choices, I criticize the way they are proposed.
I do not criticize invented music, I criticize it when it is considered authentic. Nor do I accept the fastidious and noisy condiments in the real repertoire, adapted and colored because that is how it would please the public.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Boston '17

at Menton

Sébastien Daucé - Ensemble Correspondances

Pierrelot & Martin 

Concerto Romano

Béatrice Martin

Benjamin Alard

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Notre Voyage à Fäviken via Reykjavik.

The root cellar at Fäviken

Dung-smoked trout over dehydrated egg at Dill, Reykjavik
Guillemot with red cress
Marinated char with dehydrated sprouted parsley & ryebread

Fäviken is a restaurant located in Åre, Sweden.

Dehydrated yolk on treebar, etc.

Breakfast with moose heart & game bird pate

Thursday, February 9, 2017

"Alive again!"

Hier, encore, je pense que c'est le meilleur restaurant en Amérique du Nord!  

Winter Chicories, Brussels Sprouts, Toasted Almonds, and Serrano Ham Vinaigrette

"Sabayon" of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and Sterling White Sturgeon Caviar*

"Assaisonné au Confit de Canard," Fennel Bulb, Crispy Sunchokes, Thompson Grapes, and Spiced Greek Yogurt
Served with Toasted Brioche