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Hispania & Japan: Dialogues

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"The World is a book
and those who do not travel
read only one page."
-St. Augustine of Hippo 5th c.

The conductor whose efforts I have been listening to the most recently is surely Jordi Savall. Savall is known for his performances of "early music": the Baroque and earlier... much of it "forgotten" to the mainstream "classical" repertoire. He is also a leading figure in exploring music which crosses the boundaries of East and West.

Jordi Savall's The Road to the Orient, released in 2006, presented a musical portrait of Francisco Javier and his remarkable trip from Spain to Japan. During his own travels for research and preparation for this new set, Savall met a group of talented Japanese musicians who soon became friends and with whom he performed in many concerts around the world. Repackaged following the catastrophes in Japan, Savall's Hispania & Japan: Dialogues is a specially priced album that features the most significant pieces from the musical dialogue between Spain and Japan. Alia Vox's deluxe packaging includes the usual comprehensive, richly illustrated and highly informative hardcover book plus a special bonus a miniature fold-out Japanese screen replica depicting the arrival of the first Europeans in Japan. Alia Vox is donating all profits from the sale of this set to the Japanese Red Cross.

Francisco Javier (Xavier) was born in 1506 in the Kingdom of Navarre. He was a pioneering Roman Catholic missionary and a co-founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). He studied under St. Ignatius of Loyola and led an extensive mission into Asia, mainly in the Portuguese Empire of the time. He was influential in the spreading and upkeep of Catholicism most notably in India, Japan, and Borneo. Javier was known for singing psalms, much to the fascination of the native people, as he strode about through the islands of Japan. People traveled far to see the distinguished Jesuit. In 1605, some 50 years after Javier's death, a publisher in Nagasaki brought out an edition of Javier's psalms and other religious songs in a text entitled, Manuale ad Sacramenta. These 19 songs, including the Gloriosa Domina represent the first influx of Western music in Japan. While Christianity was officially banned in Japan in 1613, its practice (and the music) continued clandestinely in certain island communities near Nagasaki.

The music here presents the interweaving's of Eastern and Western traditions. The disc as a whole is held together by a series of improvisations upon the Shakuhachi flute of the well-known Gregorian Chant, Gloriosa Domina. The disc as a whole conveys a marriage of the spiritual musical traditions of the east and the West.

Updated 12-03-2011 at 10:53 PM by stlukesguild



  1. Virgil's Avatar
    Oh that's interesting. Earlier this year I read a brilliant novel called Silence by a Japanese Catholic writer named Shusaku Endo. It's a historical novel based on that same time period as those Dialogues. You can read about Silence here: It's got the reputation of being one of Japan's finest novels, and Graham Greene called it the best Catholic novel ever written. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The novel would probably complement that music. I think I will pick that music up since I loved the novel so much.
    Updated 12-04-2011 at 12:46 AM by Virgil
  2. Buh4Bee's Avatar
    A change from the usual blog entry. Thank you for sharing as this is quite interesting.