In Memoriam: MONTSERRAT FIGUERAS (1942-2011) Greatest Catalan Soprano, ‘Artist for Peace’, avec une ‘voix de la mélancolie,’ 69, Barcelona

Published November 25, 2011 by goyodelarosa

With her ethereal voice, Montserrat Figueras sang many styles of ancient music.

Montserrat Figueras, the greatest Catalan singer of our time, died yesterday.

The life work of the great singer is an eternal gift.

Deo gratias.

‘Goyo de la Rosa’

MÚSICA

Mor la soprano Montserrat Figueras, dona de Jordi Savall

La cantant, especialitzada en música antiga, va fundar al costat del seu marit els conjunts Hespèrion XXI, La Capella Reial de Catalunya i Le Concert des Nations. El 2011 va rebre la Creu de Sant Jordi i un premi Grammy.

La soprano Montserrat Figueras, dona de Jordi Savall, ha mort als 69 anys aquesta matinada a Barcelona. La cerimònia de comiat se celebrarà divendres a les 11 h al Claustre del Monestir de Pedralbes.

Montserrat Figueras ha estat un referent en la interpretació d’un vast repertori vocal de les èpoques medieval, renaixentista i barroca. Va desenvolupar amb Savall un estil interpretatiu de la música antiga renovador, caracteritzat per compaginar una gran fidelitat a les fonts històriques amb gran capacitat creativa i expressiva, estil que ha marcat l’evolució de la música històrica.

Figueras va rebre aquest any la Creu de Sant Jordi i un premi Grammy en l’última edició dels guardons musicals nord-americans pel llibre-CD Dinastia Borgia. Església i poder al Renaixement.

Nascuda a Barcelona en una família de melòmans, col·labora des de molt jove amb Enric Gispert i la formació de música medieval Ars Musicae. Estudia les tècniques de cant antigues, des dels trobadors fins al barroc, desenvolupant un concepte molt personal que beu directament de les fonts originals, tant històriques com tradicionals, al marge de les influències post-romàntiques. Des de 1967 estableix amb el violgambista Jordi Savall una unió tant artística com humana, especialment fructífera en activitats pedagògiques, de investigació i de creació.

Participa, al costat de Savall, entre 1974 i 1989 en la fundació dels conjunts Hespèrion XXI, La Capella Reial de Catalunya i Le Concert des Nations. Amb ells i com a solista aborda la recuperació d’un patrimoni musical eclèctic, entre els quals destaquen les seves interpretacions de l’antiquíssim Cant de la Sibil·la, fins les recents Ninna NannaMisteri d’Elx i Isabel I.

Montserrat Figueras ha actuat regularment als principals festivals d’Europa, Amèrica i Orient. Els més de 60 CD que ha enregistrat han rebut nombroses distincions, entre ells el Grand Prix de l’Académie du Disque Français, l’Edison Klasik, i el Grand Prix de la Nouvelle Académie du Disque. El 2003 el govern francès li va atorgar el títol d’Officier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

  • ETIQUETES

Barcelona (Agencias) .- La soprano Montserrat Figueras, especializada en música antigua, ha fallecido este miércoles en la madrugada a los 69 años.

Nacida el 15 de marzo de 1942 en Barcelona, en una familia de melómanos, la vida de Figueras es indisociable de la música. Junto con su marido, Jordi Savall, fundó el grupoHespèrion XXI, la Capella Reial de Catalunya y la orquesta Le Concert des Nations, con la intención de difundir la música medieval, barroca y renacentista. Recibió la Creu de Sant Jordi este 2011.

Figueras estudió canto desde muy joven, colaboró con Enrique Gispert y Ars Musicae y desde 1966 se dedicó a las técnicas antiguas.

“Un referente del rigor, la profesionalidad y la excelencia”
El conseller de Cultura de la Generalitat, Ferran Mascarell, ha asegurado que la soprano Montserrat Figueras fue “un referente por el rigor, la profesionalidad y la excelencia en sus trabajos de recuperación de la música antigua”.

Mascarell ha destacado la importante labor que desarrolló Figueras “al dar a conocer el patrimonio musical mundial”, así como el papel esencial que jugó en la tarea de enseñar a los catalanes “a valorar su propio patrimonio”, según un comunicado de la conselleria.

Montserrat Figueras era un destacadísimo referente internacional en el campo de la investigación e interpretación de la música antigua y consiguió situar el nombre de Cataluña y de su patrimonio en el mundo”, ha añadido Mascarell.

CULTURE
The soprano Montserrat Figueras, one of the world’s top specialists in early music, dies aged 69
CNA

Barcelona (ACN).- The soprano and instrumentalist Montserrat Figueras died early on Wednesday morning aged 69. Figueras, who was married to the viol player Jordi Savall, was one of the world’s most recognised experts in early music, the Medieval times’ music.

She was a renowned singer but also a composer and researcher; she devoted her life to revitalising and investigating European music from the Middle Ages, as well as from the Renaissance and the Baroque periods.

Her career was linked to that of her husband; together in 1974 they founded the group Hespèrion XX –which later became Hespèrion XXI-.

In the 1970s and early 1980s, the couple lived in Switzerland, as Jordi Savall was a lecturer at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, where they both studied.

In the late 1980s, once back in Catalonia, the couple created the vocal ensemble the Capella Reial de Catalunya   (

‘Royal Chapel of Catalonia’) and the orchestra Le Concert des Nations, with instruments from the 17th century. They also started the music label Alia Vox.

Montserrat Figueras, who became one of the world’s top masters in early music vocal techniques, received many accolades, such as the ‘Officier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres’ in France, Catalonia’s ‘Creu de Sant Jordi’, or a Grammy Award together with Jordi Savall, for last year’s best classical music disc.

In addition, the album for the film ‘Tous les matins du monde’, composed by Savall and interpreted by Savall himself and Figueras, reached France’s top spot in sales in 1991.

The Catalan Culture Minister stated that both Figueras and Savall enabled people “to learn and appreciate the world’s musical heritage” with historical interpretations.

Born into a family of music lovers in Barcelona on March 15 1942, the life of Montserrat Figueras was intertwined with music and Jordi Savall.

She started studying music in Catalonia, but moved to Switzerland to continue her studies at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis and Basel’s Music Academy.

There she met the Catalan viola da gamba player Jordi Savall and they started a professional and personal relationship.

In her early years, Figueras collaborated with Enric Gispert and the Medieval music ensemble Ars Musicae.

For more than four decades, Montserrat Figueras and Jordi Savall have pursued an intense and recognised task of researching and revitalising music from the Middle Ages, as well as the Renaissance and the Baroque periods.

They mainly investigated Catalan, Castilian, Italian, French, Portuguese and English music.

Jordi Savall specialised in conducting and in playing the viola da gamba to become one of the world’s most renowned players of this rare instrument.

Montserrat Figueras developed her expertise in early music chant techniques, ranging from the troubadour times to the Renaissance, going to the Baroque.

Both Figueras and Savall also earned a reputation as composers.

Both their interpreting styles are famous for their historical accuracy, thanks to their knowledge and research of the original sources, combined with their expression and vitality.

Figueras, like her husband, combined her career as that of a musician along with that of a researcher and teacher.

The Catalan Minister for Culture, Ferran Mascarell, expressed his sorrow before the Catalan Parliament.

Mascarell defined Figueras as a reference point of “rigour, professionalism and excellence”, and stressed her deep knowledge of early music from Western Europe.

He added that both Figueras and Savall enabled people “to learn and appreciate the world’s musical heritage” with historical interpretations.

Her interpretation of Monteverdi’s Lamento della Nimfa or the Cant de la Sibilla (the Song of the Sybil) –a traditional chant from Mallorca sung on Christmas eve and which deals with the apocalypse – are masterpieces in world music.

Montserrat Figueras received many prizes and awards throughout her career.

A very special one was Catalonia’s Creu de Sant Jordi (St. Jordi’s Cross awarded by the Catalan Government), which she received this year for “her precious contribution to recuperating early music”.

Last year, Jordi Savall and Montserrat Figueras won a Grammy Award for the best classical music piece, with the book-CD ‘Borgia Dynasty: Church and Power in the Renaissance’.

Montserrat Figueras and Jordi Savall when they received UNESCO’s Artist for Peace recognition in 2008 (by ACN)
  • Montserrat Figueras et son mari Jordi Savall (en 2006)
    Montserrat Figueras et son mari Jordi Savall (en 2006)   © AFP/LIONEL BONAVENTURE

    La soprano espagnole Montserrat Figueras est morte mercredi à Barcelone à l’âge de 69 ans.

    Après avoir étudié à la Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, elle rejoint l’ensemble Hespèrion XX, fondé par son mari Jordi Savall.

    Les concerts et les enregistrements de Montserrat Figueras ont grandement contribué à la diffusion de la musique des époques médiévale, renaissante et baroque au-delà des frontières espagnoles.

    Durant sa carrière, la soprano a obtenu plusieurs prix, dont le Grand Prix de la Nouvelle Académie du Disque (1992) et le Grand Prix de l’Académie Charles-Cros (1993).

    Parmi ses enregistrements les plus célèbres, on peut citer Cançons de la Catalunya Millenària.

    Le ministre catalan de la Culture, Ferran Mascarell, a rendu hommage à son travail, qui a permis la restauration de la musique ancienne.

    Montserrat Figueras (1942-2011)

    Soprano and leading early music specialist dies aged 69

    23/11/2011
    The Spanish soprano Montserrat Figueras, a highly regarded figure in the early music world, has died aged 69.
    Figueras was born in Barcelona in 1942 and studied at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel, Switzerland under baritone Kurt Widmer, mezzo-soprano Andrea von Ramm and lutenist Thomas Binkley. She began working with the Spanish violist and early music pioneer Jordi Savall in 1967. The pair she later married and had two children, Arianna and Ferran.In the following years Figueras helped found several early music ensembles, including Hespèrion XX (which became XXI in 2000), La capella Reial de Catalunya and Le Concert des Nations.She made over 60 recordings including music by Monteverdi, Victoria, Frescobaldi and Mozart. The most recent recording she appears on is Mare nostrum, a disc of music from Morocco, Spain, Israel and Lebanon, with Hespèrion XXI, which is due to be released in early December this year. She and Savall also ran the record label Alia Vox on which this and many of her recordings have been released.She was made an ‘Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres’ by the French government in 2003 and, along with her husband, was made an ‘Artist for Peace’ by UNESCO. More recently she was awarded the Cross of Sant Jordi by the Catalan government in April of this year.

    Elizabeth Davis

El funeral de Montserrat Figueras se celebrará en el Monasterio de Pedralbes de Barcelona

Barcelona | 23/11/2011 – 20:10h

El funeral de la soprano catalana Montserrat Figueras, que falleció este miércoles en su domicilio de Bellaterra en Cerdanyola del Vallès (Barcelona), tendrá lugar el viernes a las11.00 horas en el Monasterio de Pedralbes de Barcelona.

La soprano, esposa del músico Jordi Savall, falleció a causa de un cáncer que se le había diagnosticado hace un año y que compaginó con sus conciertos habituales hasta agosto, según ha informado la Fundació Centre Internacional de Música Antiga (Fundació Cima) en un comunicado.

“Su huella musical, artística y personal ha dejado un gran legado en el mundo de la cultura. Su compromiso social y sus aportaciones al diálogo intercultural al lado de Jordi Savall la definen como una de las figuras femeninas más relevantes de nuestro tiempo”, añade el comunicado.

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La mort de Montserrat Figueras, voix de la mélancolie

LEMONDE | 23.11.11 | 18h43   •  Mis à jour le 24.11.11 | 09h42

Montserrat Figueras et son mari Jordi Savall à l'Abbaye de Fontfroide en 2010.

Montserrat Figueras et son mari Jordi Savall à l’Abbaye de Fontfroideen 2010.ALIA VOX/DAVID IGNASZEWSKI

La soprano espagnole Montserrat Figueras, qui vient de mourir des suites d’un cancer, le 23 novembre, à Barcelone, était une femme d’une noblesse et d’une élégance morales et artistiques uniques, qualités qu’elle partageait avec son époux et partenaire musical le gambiste et chef d’orchestre Jordi Savall.

Son dernier concert, en France, aura été donné à Conques, cet été. A Narbonne, quelques jours plus tôt, elle présentait son ultime programme, attendu par le public fervent et fourni de l’Abbaye de Fontfroide où, depuis six ans, Montserrat Figueras et son époux organisaient une série annuelle de concerts estivaux. Ce dernier programme, qu’elle devait enregistrer dans la foulée, s’intitulait, par une coïncidence qu’on ne peut croire fortuite, “Les cycles de la vie”.

Montserrat Figueras, née le 15 mars 1942 à Barcelone, fait des études de chant et de théâtre dans sa ville natale. Elle fréquente le groupe barcelonais de musique ancienne Ars Musicae et y rencontre celui qui, en 1968, va devenir son mari.

La même année que leur mariage, les jeunes musiciens quittent l’Espagne, où aucune structure ne leur permet de professionnaliser leur pratique de la musique ancienne, et s’installent à Bâle, où se trouve la Schola Cantorum, un institut pédagogique pour la musique ancienne d’une haute réputation. Montserrat y étudie notamment la musique du Moyen-âge – un répertoire qui l’occupera beaucoup au long de sa carrière.

Figueras et Savall fondent en 1974 l’ensemble Hesperion XX (qui prendra, au tournant du siècle, le nom Hesperion XXI) puis La Capella Reial de Catalunya, et, enfin, l’orchestre Le Concert des Nations. Le travail le plus marquant qu’effectue Hesperion est de faire se croiser, en un creuset ô combien fructueux, les traditions multiples des musiques du bassin méditerranéen. Ils chanteront les “goûts réunis”et bien davantage, assurant avec un naturel parfait la présentation d’artistes aux origines et aux confessions diverses, Juifs, Arabes, Chrétiens.

Ce farouche dessein multiculturel, Jordi Savall et Montserrat Figueras l’auront accompli au delà de la musique, acceptant, fin 2007, le rôle d’“Artistes pour la Paix”dans le cadre des “Ambassadeurs de bonne volonté” de l’UNESCO et sous-titrant bientôt les programmes de Fontfroide, l’été, “Pour un dialogue interculturel”.

Lorsqu’on entendait Montserrat Figueras, on pensait à la définition de la musique que livrait joliment le compositeur Ferruccio Busoni : “De l’air sonore”. Car la voix de la soprano, au timbre mélancolique et feulant, était comme une coloration, une mise en vibration du silence. Au fil des ans, Montserrat Figueras devait conserverles mêmes qualités de couleur, de tenue, et, surtout de charme. Rappelant que la racine latine du mot “carmen” signifie tout autant “charme” que “chant”.


Cette nécrologie paraîtra dans une version développée dans l’édition du Mondedatée du 25 novembre.

Cinq disques essentiels de Montserrat Figueras :

– Monteverdi : Lamentations et madrigaux (2 SACD Alia Vox) ;
– Ninna Nanna, berceuses (1 SACD Alia Vox) ;
– Le Chant de la sibille (1 SACD Alia Vox) ;
– Lux Feminae (1 SACD Alia Vox) ;
– Cançons de la catalunya millenària. Plaintes & Légendes (1 SACD Alia Vox).

Renaud Machart

Montserrat Figueras, A Striking Voice For Early Music, Dies At 69

November 23, 2011

 by ANASTASIA TSIOULCAS
With her ethereal voice, Montserrat Figueras sang many styles of ancient music.
Albert AymamiWith her ethereal voice, Montserrat Figueras sang many styles of ancient music.

Sad news arrived this morning from Barcelona: Monserrat Figueras, a marvelous Catalan soprano with a luminous voice that helped generations of listeners discover hidden early music treasures, passed away yesterday at age 69 after a year-long battle against an unnamed illness.

Born in Barcelona to a musical family, she and her husband of more than 40 years, the viola da gamba master and conductor Jordi Savall, introduced generations of listeners to music that spanned many centuries and lands from the Middle East to Latin America. In pursuit of their shared artistic vision, the duo founded three ensembles: Hespèrion XX (now called Hespèrion XXI), La Capella Reial de Catalunya and Le Concert des Nations.

I first heard Figueras’ recordings in the early 1990s, and I fell hard. I was so besotted that I quickly morphed from enthusiastic novice to hosting an early music program on New York’s WKCR-FM. Here were two artists who absolutely transformed their art form. Their moving, dreamy music lifted a dim radio studio into medieval Catalonia and realms far beyond, born aloft by Figueras’ high, pure voice.

Their imaginative and gorgeously executed recording projects, carefully curated and performed with the utmost scholarship and unsurpassed beauty, were made all the more astonishing by the way music poured forth from them – often at the rate of two or more albums a year. Figueras recorded more than 70 albums, and the couple established their own superb record label, Alia Vox. She was named an officer of France’s Order of Arts and Letters in 2003; in 2008 she and her husband were named “Artists for Peace” by UNESCO. In recent years, their artistic family has come to include their children – their son Ferran, a gifted theorbo player and singer, and their daughter Arianna, an excellent harpist and singer who is a near physical duplicate of her mother.

Over the past few years, the couple’s hunger to make artistic statements that had an even wider cultural and even spiritual embrace grew even more pronounced. One of the last times I saw Figueras perform was in June 2010 in Morocco, at the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music and Dance. She and her husband, along with Hesperion XXI and La Capella Reial de Catalunya and a raft of Israeli, Palestinian, Iraqi, Greek and Armenian guest artists, presented a soulful and beautifully shaped narrative arcing over the history of Jerusalem from ancient Jewish times until the present.

Although time and perhaps encroaching illness had somewhat worn Figueras’ voice by then, her artistry was still in full force. Before the evening’s performance, she greeted me with a quiet smile as I prepared to interview her husband backstage, and I remember thinking that even in her sixties, she was as regal a presence as ever. With her unchanging sheet of long, dark hair and clad as always in street clothes that were similar to the richly colored, long and flowing outfits she wore on stage, she looked as if she had stepped out of a medieval tapestry.

The last time I planned to see her sing was at the Tully Scope Festival at Lincoln Center this past March. Figueras was scheduled to perform Baroque-era songs from the New World with her family and frequent collaborators in a live performance of one of their most recent projects, El Nuevo Mundo – Folias Criollas. Though she cancelled her appearance due to illness, her missing voice – the one I could easily summon in my memory – still floated above the rest.

Hear Montserrat Figueras Sing

Montserrat Figueras

Cancao del lladre (Song of the Thief)

  • Artist: Montserrat Figueras/Jordi Savall
  • Album: Cançons de la Catalunya mil-lenària
  • Song: Cancao del lladre (Song of the Thief)
Montserrat Figueras.

Noumi, noumi, noumi yaldati (Hebraic Lullaby)

  • Artist: Montserrat Figueras
  • Album: Ninna Nanna
  • Song: Noumi, noumi, noumi yaldati (Hebraic Lullaby)
Jerusalem project

Cantiga de Santa Maria: O ffondo do mar tan châo

  • Artist: Jordi Savall
  • Album: Jérusalem [Includes Book] [Hybrid SACD]
  • Song: Jerusalem, City of Two Peaces: Heavenly Peace and Earthly Peace, for voices & ensembles [Part 4. Jerusalem, a city of pilgrimage, 383-1250. Cantiga de Santa Maria: O ffondo do mar tan châo]

ALPHA-OMEGA HEART OF THE CATALAN CROSS

Goyo de la Rosa,

Victoria Pacifica



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11 comments on “In Memoriam: MONTSERRAT FIGUERAS (1942-2011) Greatest Catalan Soprano, ‘Artist for Peace’, avec une ‘voix de la mélancolie,’ 69, Barcelona

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