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El Cant de la & Draumkvedet

El Cant de la & Draumkvedet

Arianna Savall
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El cant de la & Draumkvedet 

Mystical songs between the visible and the invisible

The great ancient mystery chants of Spain and Norway

This is a program where the Hirundo Maris ensemble delves into two mystical chants that oscillate between the visible and the invisible and are rooted in the Middle Ages. Thanks to their beauty and magic, they have been sung throughout the centuries, keeping this ancient tradition alive to our times. Hirundo Maris reconnects the north with the south through these ancient origins, but it is in the medieval and Renaissance periods that they gain strength and musical journey filled with mystery. Both the song of the Sibyl and Draumkvedet have are sung in the vernacular language, in this case Catalan and Norwegian. Both el cant de la and Draumkvedet are sung on Christmas night and carry an apocalyptic, prophetic message: they are divine visions-revelations transmitted to humanity, the end of a world, and the birth of a new world. A mystical journey to the end of time.

The Song of the Sibyl comes from antiquity, but the first musical traces can be found in the 13th century. It is the song of the Apocalypse, of the final judgment, but also the coming of a new world. It is the wise voice of a feminine figure who, with her heartrending beauty of a song, conveys hope through forgiveness. In classical Greece, the Sibyl is the archetype of the prophetess, a woman of wisdom and the vehicle of divine revelations, a medium that conveys the oracle. This legendary figure of the pagan seer will be assimilated and reworked by Judeo-Christian monotheism, assuming a transcendental role in Christianity as the transmitter of the word of God. 

In this program, we have chosen the first Sibyl, which will be sung in Catalan, of a more syllabic nature, found in the Cathedral of Barcelona, written down in 1415. The other Sibyl we have chosen is from Girona, written down in 1550, but that doesn't mean it wasn't sung much earlier! The Sibyl of the Cathedral of Girona is one of the most melismatic. But both Sibyls begin with an ascending fifth interval, indicating a bright, cosmic, and sacred song. In the 16th century, it became customary to sing the refrains of the Sibyl in several voices, and here we have chosen some polyphonic choruses of great beauty, some anonymous, others by Bartolomé Cárceres and Alonso. 

In 2010, El cant de la became part of the world heritage. 

Hirundo Maris is proud to present their unique rendition of Draumkvedet,an enthralling Norwegian medieval ballad, in their latest album. This adaptation not only preserves the essence of the original but also enhances it with fresh musical perspectives.

Draumkvedet, or "The Dream Poem," is an enigmatic and mesmerizing piece of Norwegian folklore, often regarded as one of the country's most valuable cultural treasures. Its haunting verses tell a dream-journey to the afterlife, symbolizing themes of life, death, and redemption that resonate deeply with human experience.

In this new recording, Hirundo Maris has meticulously selected 52 verses from the ballad and brought them to life using four traditional folk melodies. These melodies have often been employed in singing this rich text, and the group has embraced them to create a connective thread with the past.

The new choral and instrumental music in this rendition has been exclusively composed by Petter Udland Johansen, a leading member of the group. His compositions inject freshness into the timeless ballad, intertwining old with new and tradition with innovation. His other musical arrangements in the album seamlessly blend various musical elements to create a holistic auditory experience.

This unique version of "Draumkvedet" by Hirundo Maris stands as a homage to the medieval Norwegian culture and a testament to the limitless possibilities of music. It invites listeners to a mystical journey that transcends time, guided by the age-old melodies and fresh musical landscapes.

With heartfelt gratitude, we extend our sincere thanks to L’ensemble vocal de Saint-Maurice and their esteemed conductor, Charles Barbier. Your masterful collaboration and passionate performance during the premiere of El Cant de la Sibil·la and 'Draumkvedet – Grand Concert Dansé, on March 18th, 2023, at the Basilique Abbaye St-Maurice, brought our musical vision to life. Your artistry has imbued our work with a depth and grace that we will forever cherish. 

We are also very grateful for the valuable and generous help of the great musicologist Maricarmen Gómez Muntané, a specialist in the Song of the Sibyl, with whom we have been able to work in depth and who has helped us better understand this fascinating world of the Sibyl. 

This program, centered on the two mystical chants, has been carefully arranged by Hirundo Maris to take us on a journey related to winter, where the line between the visible and the invisible will be very subtle and full of mysteries.

Arianna Savall and Petter Udland Johansen, 17 august 2023, Maisprach


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