Israel Festival: Jerusalem - Heavenly and Earthly Peace

Jordi Savall Jerusalem - Heavenly and Earthly Peace Hesperion Ensemble Jerusalem Theater June 4 Few people would have imagined that Jerusalem would be the inspiration for so many musical pieces from ethnic sources so diverse and from so many different periods as were presented by Jordi Savall, the Hesperion Ensemble and the Capella Reial de Catalunya as part of the Israel Festival. The music ranged from Biblical times through the Crusaders' Middle Ages up to the 20th century. The opening shofar blow set the stage for a fabulously impressive performance. The abundant, often conflicting sentiments and aspirations regarding Jerusalem were brought to perfect balance under the common denominator of "heavenly and earthly peace." The Psalm verse "If I forget thee, Jerusalem" was tied to a Koran prayer for peace, and Talmudic episodes harmonized dissonantly with the pope's call for a crusade. A fascinating mosaic of Gregorian chant, an Arab chant to Jerusalem, Sephardi ballads and Spanish cantigas highlighted intense feelings from many different angles. A Palestinian lament, an Armenian lament and the Hebrew mourning "El malei rahamim" joined together for a chilling climax. All the pieces were performed with perfect faithfulness to their various styles and with meticulous artistry of discreet though poignant expression. Montserrat Figueras's pure voice was altogether enchanting. The sonorities of the period instruments were produced masterfully. It was the kind of unique performance that makes a festival worthwhile.