Aldeburgh's poignant song without words

A Catalan proverb tells how Qui canta, els seus mals espanta - 'He who sings, frightens away his troubles'. After the Spanish Civil War the traditional Catalan lullaby El Cant Dels Aucells - 'The Song of the Birds' was adopted by Republican refugees in French internment camps and went on to become a global anthem for the Catalan cause in Pablo Casals' cello arrangement. A young Jordi Savall heard Casals play at the Prades Festival and in 1988 the Catalan viol player recorded 'The Song of the Birds' with his wife the soprano Montserrat Figueras and their children Arianna and Ferran. The Astrée album featuring 'The Song of the Birds' launched Montserrat Figueras on a richly productive musical and humanitarian career that ended with her tragically early death in November last year. Her final album Mare Nostrum was recorded under the shadow of the cancer that was to take her from us. It includes 'The Song of the Birds', but the lullaby becomes the most poignant of laments in a version without voice. In a bold piece of programming the 2012 Aldeburgh Festival is presenting Mare Nostrum in a typically bracing Festival that ranges from Gesualdo to Cage. Montserrat Figueras is of course irreplaceable, and in recognition of this Mare Nostrum is being given at Aldeburgh without voices. There is a deeply moving video of the memorial concert for Montserrat Figueras below.

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