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‘The memories of my childhood in Argentina always bring me back to the singer-songwriter Joan Manuel Serrat, synonymous with shared family moments . . . Serrat’s poetry and music around a barbecue in Argentina; “De vez en cuando la vida” made me cry as it has made millions of people cry in Latin America, Spain and elsewhere . . . Joan Manuel Serrat is part of our life, he is our Jacques Brel! . . . Or, if we project ourselves back to the sixteenth century, he is in a sense our little Camerata Fiorentina, that movement of Italian poets and musicians in Florence. Serrat has allowed the whole of Latin America and Spain to reappropriate the works of its poets . . . He has also been synonymous with freedom and the struggle against dictatorial regimes.
‘His song “Mediterraneo” is one of the emblematic pieces of his career. It is almost a hymn that has special resonance nowadays: “I was born in the Mediterranean”!
‘I asked my good friend Quito Gato to arrange these songs for our ensemble, Cappella Mediterranea. The orchestration retains typical seventeenth-century instruments: recorders, cornett, violins, viola da gamba, cellos, lutes, harp, harpsichord, organ, with some percussion and a double bass.
‘These period instruments allow us to travel back in time and compare Serrat’s romances with the Ensaladas of Mateo Flecha (1481-1553) – La Bomba – or a piece by Francesco Valls, a Catalan who is now forgotten yet was one of the greatest composers of seventeenth-century Spain, the polyphony of Guillaume Dufay, a composition by Juan Cabanilles that recalls a Bach Passion. The Xacaras, a satirical genre from the Spanish Golden Age (Francisco Gómez de Quevedo, Pedro Calderón de la Barca) dialogues with Serrat’s works. As does the Música callada of the Catalan composer Frederic Mompou, transcribed here for the harp.’
Leonardo García Alarcón