Euskal Antiqva

Legacy of the land of Basque
Euskal Barrokensemble, Enrike Solinis
57:15
Alia Vox AV9910

In a brief introduction to this disc Jordi Savall announces that the Alia Vox label, hitherto devoted to projects associated with his own stable of groups, is to branch out into presenting work by similar groups. This CD presents music of the Basque region performed by the Euskal Barrokensemble and includes a bewildering and fascinating range of music given lively performances. Like many of Savall’s own projects on Alia Vox this has its virtues and its vices.

Among the virtues are the superbly detailed programme notes – a virtual novel attached to the CD once translations in English, French, German, Catalan, Castilian and of course Basque have been included – the excellent recorded sound, the generally classy presentation, and the fact that little of the music has ever been recorded before. Among the vices are the rather blurred lines around authenticity – some of the improvised numbers here have a distinctly modern blues flavour – resulting often from the traditions of oral transmission, and the desire to contribute to a rather imaginative presentation of the past. Unlike many of Savall’s projects focused on one individual musical tradition, this CD has a much greater variety, which prevents a unified impression of ‘Basque Music’ from emerging, but perhaps suggesting that here is something more genuine, alive and eclectic. The performances are generally convincing (I found the lack of a listing in English of the instruments something of a frustration), although one or two of the readings are given an unfortunately high-tech voice-over immediacy. We look forward to Alia Vox Diversa’s future exploration of the music of neglected cultures and regions.

D. James Ross