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Briefly Noted: La Figueras

available at Amazon
La Voix de l'Emotion, M. Figueras, La Capella Reial de Catalunya, Hespèrion XX-XXI

(released on March 13, 2012)
AVSA 9889A+B | 153'43"
When soprano Montserrat Figueras died in 2011, a trailblazing career came to an end. Jordi Savall, the Catalan viola da gambist Jordi Savall who was married to Figueras for 47 years, told an interviewer that she would always remain his muse: "She understood things about singers from their behavior, their appearance, toward which repertories their taste could lead them. This was more than a musical gift: she was interested in other people, for their humanity above all." In tribute to her, Alia Vox released a 2-CD compilation of tracks recorded over the course of her singing career, from 1978 to 2009. The last time that I heard her sing, at the Kennedy Center in 2010, she did not sound well, but these discs are a reminder that her long career was full of reasons why she was so magnetic as a performer: the verve of her tone, her ease and naturalness of pronunciation and musicality, the versatility with languages. She did indeed sing so much music in so many styles -- Baroque motets and secular songs in French, Italian, Spanish; Renaissance madridgals and sacred music; Catalan, Moroccan, and Sephardic folksongs; medieval monophonic pieces; modern songs (Pärt, Musorgsky) -- and it is all featured here, both solo pieces and polyphonic music where she is part of La Capella Reial de Catalunya. Some irritating vocal tics had crept into her performances in recent years -- scooping, bending -- and the tone was not always pleasing, but this is a consistently moving listen, concluding with Manuel de Falla's touching lullaby Duérmete, niño, duerme.

"Io la musica son" -- Montserrat Figueras as the Prologue in L'Orfeo

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