Sephardic romances, cancionero of Palacio, original music of Philippe Malfeyt
On 31 March 1492, the Catholic monarchs expelled the Jews from Castile and Aragon. Between 70,000 and 170,000 people fled Iberian soil into permanent exile. This programme bears witness not only to the exile of a people, but also to the emotional exile so beautifully exemplified in mediaeval courtly lyrics. Yearning for the homeland, the wanderings of a heart in despair, the rejection of a world of appearances… all these forms of exile inspired this repertoire.
In order to follow in the footsteps of this diaspora, so conducive to cultural encounters, La Roza Enflorese has collaborated with the Alfama String Quartet, performing a Judaeo-Spanish repertoire supplemented by Spanish Renaissance polyphony and original compositions by Philippe Malfeyt setting poems by Pablo Neruda.
When the Flagey cultural centre commissioned a new programme from us in 2013, two ideas immediately took hold: that we should collaborate with a classical ensemble – and there is nothing more classical than a string quartet – and that we should allow ourselves to explore other repertoires besides that of the Sephardic tradition that has occupied us for so many years. These two decisions were to revolutionise our way of working. It was out of the question to improvise 9-part counterpoint around a monody, so we needed to write sufficiently worked-out arrangements to take advantage of the richness of the string quartet – therefore why not take the plunge into composition?
We have Philippe Malfeyt to thank for his wonderful writing that matches historical or traditional instruments so well with modern ones. He has created a modern universe infused with ancient and folk sonorities rich in nostalgia.
“The violins weep for a lost time that will not return
The violins weep for a lost homeland that will perhaps return.” (Mahmoud Darwish)