Jordi Savall with Orchestra filled with sound every corner of St. Elisabeth’s Cathedral

Viola da gamba player, conductor and composer Jordi Savall with his ensemble Le Concert des Nations fulfilled the expectations of an unforgettable artistic experience, and fillied with perfect tones the entire St. Elisabeth’s Cathedral where these world-class musicians performed their concert. Audience did not at all regret attending this performance. It was a great opportunity to see and hear excellent musicians under the baton of a world-class artist.

Early music played on period musical instruments warmed up hearts, soothed souls and sounded pleasantly for ears. Only the rather cold interior of the Cathedral was a slight disappointment. The cold weather surprised also the musicians when they arrived from much warmer Spain to not very amicable Košice. However, they managed to get warmed up through the quality music. The full Cathedral was breathless when interpreting Haydn’s The Seven Last Words of our Saviour on the Cross. As the gamba music maestro revealed, this piece is deep in his heart and it truly sounded so – from the heart.

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“I have a personal relationship to Haydn. From a young age, when I was still playing the cello with my quartet, this opus excited and affected me. Actually, there were three compositions important to me at that time. The other two were Requiem and Art of Fugue by Bach. It was the very first composition that we recorded with the ensemble Le Concert des Nations 15 years ago, and one the few that we have recorded twice. The second time was in a cathedral in Cadize, for which Haydn composed it. Video was shot there as well, so now it is on DVD. I consider this composition a musical memorial, and one of the greatest works of music ever,” said charismatic J. Savall about the opus, which sounded in the Gothic temple. The listeners were mostly from Košice, but many people travelled from other towns and even from abroad to hear this great music.

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“It is a unique opportunity to hear such amazing music live. It is very important to me. I have kept an eye on Savall for many years, collect his recordings and promote them. I play them in my radio sessions and talk about them, I monitor all his activities and also the works of his family members. I understand his desire for an authentic presentation of period works of early Baroque Spanish and French music, as well as overlaps into film music. I find it incredible. I would include Savall in the top five of the best contemporary experts in gamba music throughout the world. He has excellent players, instrumentalists, arrangers, it is simply the world’s top class. It is a great honour for me to be at his concert,” said Peter Katina, accordionist and music journalist, before the sound of the first tone.

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High-quality and perfect music attracted to the Cathedral even musicians who are rather in the modern music world. Ivan Timko, No Name’s drummer, came to enjoy the Friday evening: “I like also classical music, I came here for a cultural experience. I have to admit that Savall and his orchestra are terra incognita for me, but I was lured to hear this kind of music. He is a world-class personality, so I am curious and want to learn something new. I have recently seen a film about a string quartet, and it inspired me to come to the concert. Since then, I have been floating on a string wave. I look forward to it, it will surely be amazing.”

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What are the world-famous musician’s, who dusts off forgotten music, impressions of the hosting European Capital of Culture?

“Košice is a town with beautiful environment. It has nice architecture with historical features. It gives me great pleasure to perform Haydn’s work in your Cathedral. My first impression when I arrived in the city was that it has a great history. Everything we see around reminds us of the city’s past, there are visible traces of your ancestors. It is a result of the achievement to preserve the history of this city without modernistic excesses,” said J. Savall, and it sounded as pleasantly as the music he brought to Košice.

According to him, Košice has the privilege of retaining the heritage, and the resulting responsibility to balance the heritage with a modern running of the city. “Unlike the things we can touch, music lives only when we play it. Therefore, it is essential that we play music in these historical buildings, music that fits into this venue. Without a proper venue, the music could not exist at that level.”

Kveta Podhorská       

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