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Hirundo Maris is Latin for “sea swallow” and, like that bird’s nomadic flight, singer and harpist Arianna Savall’s quintet - part early music ensemble, part folk group - drifts on musical currents between Norway and Catalonia, and adds its own songs, created on the wing. Savall and co-leader Petter Udland Johansen have shaped a band with a bright, glistening timbral blend, capped by Arianna’s ice-clear voice, eminently well-equipped to address songs of the north and the south.
Arianna Savall’s leader debut for ECM New Series follows her distinguished contributions to Rolf Lislevand’s Nuove musiche (4763049) and to Helena Tulve’s Lijnen (4766389) - sensuous early music on the one hand, bracingly contemporary composition on the other.
In both genres she has proven to be a charismatic singer. Hirundo Maris, with its very fresh instrumental textures, takes another trajectory.
Savall and Petter Udland Johansen describe their project as a journey linking the Mediterranean and the North Sea. Near the centre of the sound are Arianna’s sparkling harps and the drones of Johansen’s Hardanger fiddle; when the colours of the mandolin and more unexpectedly the Dobro (not often heard outside bluegrass contexts) are added, a message is sent about the universality of song as well as of the transatlantic travels of old ballads… Arianna Savall’s voice is already familiar to many who have followed the outstanding work of her parents, Catalan viol master Jordi Savall and singer Montserrat Figueras: until 2008 Arianna played and sang as a member of her father’s ensembles, including Hespèrion XXI.
This album is dedicated to the memory of her mother, who died in December 2011.
22nd July 2012
“This disc is dedicated to the memory of Savall’s mother, the Catalan early-music soprano Montserrat Figueras, who died last November. The daughter has taken much from her parent — but, with her Norwegian colleague Petter Udland Johansen, Savall brings other sound worlds to bear.”