Impro: Ferran Savall

Ferran Savall is the son of early music aristocracy: his mother, the late Montserrat Figueras (1942-2011), was among the finest recent interpreters of baroque vocal music; and his father, viola da gambist Jordi Savall, the founder of the baroque ensemble Hysperion XXI and record label Alia Vox. Ferran’s sister, Arianna, is also an exceptional soprano and harpist. Growing up in a musical family of this calibre, it’s no wonder Ferran is such a skilled and versatile guitarist and singer. Impro is Ferran’s second solo album on the Alia Vox label, following on from his mesmerisingly beautiful 2008 recording Mireu el nostro mar. These two CDs are quite different from the usual Alia Vox fare; the label is best known for its fine folk and early music recordings. Ferran’s music instead has a contemporary flavor, with folk-like restraint to his lovely tenorial voice, and a relaxed sound to his guitar.

Impro is a seamless ten-year exploration through Ferran’s interpretations of Spanish and contemporary folk, and early music. A number of tracks bear similarity to the music of Australian-Isreali musician Lior, such as ‘El Joc Etern’ (‘The Eternal Game’), which features percussionist Pedro Estevan. Here, Ferran experiments with a variety of vocal colours and techniques, such as skatting and taking his voice up into its sweet falsetto range, resulting in a lighthearted and jocular mood among the pensive neighboring tracks, such as the following ‘Nous Horitzons’ (‘New Horizons’). Ferran is joined by his father Jordi on viola da gamba in ‘Jaroslaw’, and the more traditionally baroque sound here will be recognisable to Alia Vox devotees. The penultimate ‘Comiat d’una Mare’ (‘Farewell to a Mother’) is a loving tribute to Montserrat, featuring only a sparse guitar motif to accompany the intimacy of Ferran’s subdued voice. Impro concludes with a pared-back rendition of ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’, reminiscent of Israel Kamakiwiwo’ole’s famous interpretation of the song.

This lovely CD is testament to Ferran’s ability to draw together early music and Spanish folk to beautiful effect. While Impro isn’t strictly ‘classical’, Ferran’s skill and musical sophistication will appeal to lovers of fine music.

Alexandra Mathew is from Readings Carlton.