Jordi Savall - concerts with his family and friends

Concerts with Jordi Savall and his family

Born 1941 he began his musical education 1947, which he concluded 1970 at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. Since then about 100 concerts per year, as gamba virtuoso, founder and director of three ensembles for ancient music, manager of his own record label. Approx. 90 CDs with own recordings, altogether 2 million copies sold. Countless prices and awards, overcrowded concert halls. Jordi Savall's records cannot be beaten in any ways - not in the south of Europe.

Past history
29 years ago Jordi Savall founded the ensemble Hespèrion XX with his wife, the soprano Montserrat Figueras. A programmatic, at the same time cryptic name: The antiquity called “Hesperia” the two western big peninsulas of Europe, Italy and Spain, the Roman “XX” meant the 20th century.
Savall and his ensemble wanted to revive the old, nearly forgotten music of these two countries and they wanted to do this not in a virtually archaeological way but in the contrary conscious from the point of the view and with the liveliness of musicians from the 20th century.
The scores handed down to us from this early period of the European music history (meant are those of the 12th until the 18th century) often only give scanty details in which instrumentation, in which tempo and with which ornamentations they shall be performed. Maybe some of the valuable handwritings are only extremely abbreviated summaries, memory aids for a music that was played by improvising interpreters which were their own composers at the same time.

Jordi Savall did not only conduct this ensemble, that essentially consisted of students and graduates of the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, the best university for acient music in Switzerland, he himself played and still plays the viola da gamba, an instrument that was nearly forgotten since it was taken off by the violoncello about 250 years ago. – Forgotten so completly, that nearly everything that was connected with this instrument, how to play it, its attitude, atmosphere etc. had to be reconstructed from archives and old illustrations. In the meantime Jordi Savall is regarded as the master of the viola da gamba. With the warm overtone-rich and unobtrusive sound of his instrument, a sound that is regarded by contemporaries best like the human voice, Savall conquers an audience getting bigger and bigger especially in France, Spain, Italy and Austria. As mentioned above about 2 000 000 copies of his almost 90 CDs were sold until now.

Music & Film and Film music

A considerable share to this success is dued to the soundtrack of the film “Tous les matins du monde” from Alain Corneau which tells the vita of the eccentric composer Sainte-Colombe le fils and his pupil Marin Marais.
Jordi Savall gave his sound of the instrument to the actors Jean-Pierre Marielle and Gerard Depardieu who only were pretending as if they would play (although they had to learn the gamba play as far as they could). Hard to say what exactly made up the success of this soundtrack: On the one hand of course the high art of the interpreter, his breath, the calm and concentration of his play, the variety of the tonal colours – which only come to validity when you listen to the CD. The viola da gamba is not an instrument for big concert halls but an intimate - a chamber instrument in the real literal sense.

On the other hand as already mentioned it matters, that the repertoire of Jordi Savall, the manner of his interpretation is very unobtrusive. His music can be put in the background, you may but you must not listen to it. It permits both: its “use” as musique d’ameublement – and a concentrated, meditative listening.

Besides the original ensemble Hespèrion XX (in the meantime XXI) Jordi Savall founded and conducts the vocal ensemble LA CAPELLA REIAL DE CATALUNYA and the chamber orchestra LE CONCERT DES NATIONS that already recorded Beethoven symphonies. In addition Jordi Savall appears in solo recitals or plays duets for example with the harpsichord player Ton Koopman. Furthermore (one of all these activities would be enough for a “normal” person – but Jordi Savall does not seem to be a person of this kind,- besides his mother tongue, the Catalan, he speaks fluently Spanish, French, Italian, English and German), five years ago he founded his own record label “aliavox” with which he “only” (as he expresses himself) presents 5 new CDs from his repertoire each year – altogether 25 titles that were sold about 700.000 times.


It is illusory to assume one can shoot a film about Jordi Savall which summarizes the complete fullness of his activities or gives a representative summary of the musical treasures raised by him with a profound expertise. Or to describe exactly how he manages to play the viola da gamba in his own unmistakable way that makes it sound like it sounds.

Without any doubt Jordi Savall is a maestro of the international music scene. But into which of these many Jordis Savall did we want to give an insight? We decided us to concentrate on few aspects of his personality.

Since the music which Jordi Savall resurrects must be formed in her finest micro tonal fibres and layers, it is undisputed of a great fascination, to let this work and the micro cells of the music become shape in the screen. What do these hands, these fingertips have to do, to get these small nuances out of the vibrating string like a sculptor creates a sculpture out of a stone or a wood piece?
Occasionally Jordi Savall told us, that again and again people told him that they wait for a film in which you might see: how does he actually do it?
And Savall does not do it in a “romantic way” - it does not work to show the face of the musician only “feel the music”. The first 7 minutes of our film focus on Savalls hands, his fingers, that you can even see each dust particle vibrating on the strings.

It was our idea, only to concentrate on one ensemble, the ensemble Hespèrion XXI that celibrates in 2004 its 30th anniversary. And we only present a selection from the nearly infinite repertoire of this ensemble that shows Jordi Savall solo, in duo and trio play up to an almost chamber orchestral instrumentation with approx. 5 musicians.
A red thread runs through the music program, the rhythm of the Folia or the Fandango e.g. but also the change of solo and bigger instrumentation, instrumental and vocal pieces.

One of the locations of the music shootings was the church of the castle of Cordona, the so-called Colegiata, a both acoustic and visually charming place.
Our concept was to illuminate each of the different pieces (that last about 1-3 minutes) matching its character in an own special way, from a selective illumination with the surroundings in black up to a radiant illumination of the complete church room.
Of course we took care that this playing with light remains discreet but nevertheless shows the room in his facets so that he joins in the background but all the more lets the music step forward through this

This concept of a special lightdesign appears all over the film: In Cardona, in two churches in Cracow (Poland) where we filmed two live-concerts, and in the Sans Soucis-Castle in Potsdam.

Günther Uttendorfer
Chris Rowe
Boris Fromageot
Georg Morawietz
David Kammerer
Jan Wichers
Amanda Villavieja Garcia
Light Design:
Wojitek Kursa
Ray Ruiz
Hanne Kaisik

Cast & Crew

Uli Aumüller