Ninna Nanna, ca. 1500-2002 (Lullabies)

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This is a formidable collection of lullabies, spanning 500 years, including 18 (from almost as many countries) in Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Catalan, English and more, each charming, each in his own idiom. Some are anonymous; others are composed by composers as different as Byrd, Mussorgsky, Milhaud and Arvo Pärt. The disc should not be listened to in one place – no matter how interesting, they are still lullabies and can soften the listener in torpor – but in three pieces, the content is fascinating. Figueras can make his sound go from folk to classic, from a mother who is passionate about the safety of her child to one who simply wants to entertain in sleep. The anonymous Greek lullaby (track 3) contains the smallest vocal quirk – a whiplash at the end of some sentences – that only an artist like Figueras could remove. And Savall and his soloists accompany various instruments – flute, harp, viols, etc. – with pianist Paul Badura-Skoda playing on three lullabies. The CD is a wonderful world tour through the centuries with only one subject in mind: sleep. And sleep is something, after all, that takes a third of our lives. This CD keeps getting softer, the more you listen. Recommended. – Robert Levine


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