Jordi Savall

By Alan G. Artner

Jordi Savall is one of those elect musicians whose curiosity, scholarship, probity and expressiveness give pleasure in everything he plays.

In past years he came to the Chicago area — not often enough — with members of ensembles he founded for the historically informed performance of medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music.

Friday night he returned to Mandel Hall as soloist on the viola da gamba with just one colleague, Frank McGuire, a master of the bodhran or traditional Irish frame drum. And a more satisfying recital of 17th- and 18th-century popular music could scarcely have been imagined.

Long before "world music" became a common term, Savall was among the few classical performers to explore the folk traditions of various cultures. He became known for uncovering pieces played in communities around the Mediterranean, presenting such works alongside creations for royal courts and the church. But always his itinerary expanded, and about a decade ago he began to add popular music for the Celtic viol.

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