Review of Santiago De Murcia Codex by Ensemble Kapsberger Rolf Lislevand, Auvidis/Naive, 2000
“Whenever humanity seems condemned to heaviness, I think I should fly like Perseus into a different space. I don’t mean escaping into dreams or the irrational. I mean that I have to change my approach, look at the world from a different perspective, with a different logic and with fresh methods of cognition and verification. (Terence sent me this quote the other day. A good battle cry, I believe… and one I wholeheartedly respect.)”
― Italo Calvino, Six Memos For The Next Millennium
Please excuse me if I allow myself to quote the great Italian writer Italo Calvino and to “steal” some of his reflections about lightness and excuse me if I review this record now, belatedly, since it’s been over 15 years since its release. A cd devoted to the music of the spanish composer Santiago De Murcia, guitar teacher at the court of Spain of Maria Luisa of Savoy and author of several books of compositions for guitar.
We know very few things about this composer, but in recent years several interesting manuscripts of his music were discovered in Latin American countries such as Chile and Mexico.
His compositions are in this cd freely interpreted by the Ensemble Baroque Kapsberger and by the great guitarist Rolf Lislevand. I say freely interpreted because this cd Lislevand gives us a kind of anticipation of that line of free interpretations and improvisations that we’ll get used for years to come with three CDs released later for ECM.
I have no direct or indirect experiences with regard to the so-called musical philology, but, frankly I don’t think that Lislevand and Ensemble Kapsberger playing are respectful of a certain philology, but at the same time I’m amazed in front of their quality and their great musicality. Here’s why the link with the theme of lightness proposed by Calvino.
The passages by Santiago de Murcia, reissued by Lislevand have something more, something that goes beyond even his considerable musical skills, his virtuosity fluid, they are a sort of a search for knowledge, they are existential function, the search for a musical lightness is such a reaction to the weight of living. Calvin spoke of two opposite vocations for literature: one is the tendency to make the language an element without weight, the other is to communicate the language of the weight, the reality of things, the feelings. Lislevand and Ensemble Kapsberger create ethereal structures, but at the same time they manage to connect the music they play with the invisible threads of their talent, with these emotions and thoughts, giving new light and new life to these music composed hundreds years ago. Don’t you believe in me? Listen to how Lislvand plays his fretless baroque guitar …