I was sad to learn a few minutes ago that Montserrat Figueras died today at the age of 69. The Catalan soprano, that I had the pleasure to listen in recital with her husband Jordi Savall, had been part of my musical life for more than 30 years. In fact, my first LP of Early Music was bought around 1980 during a trip to Andorra, a small country 200 km distant from Barcelona, the home of the diva. This LP, entitled “Le Llibre Vermeil de Monserrat”, was the start of a long exploration of the early music, that lasts until today. Since the later CD version of this recording had the picture of big pink rose in the cover, my young child who also listened to it often (there was no dedicated listening room at that time) just called it the “Record of the Lady of the Rose”.
Recordings of Montserrat Figueras, Jordi Savall and their ensemble Hespèrion XX (that later become Hespèrion XXI) became a large and treasured part of my library – I can say with confidence that their recordings exceed in number the works of any other author or composer.
Unhappily, the last time I was at a recital of Hespèrion XXI, some months ago, she did not appear. They played “Istambul” of Dmitrie Cantemir: "The Book of Science of Music"" and the Sephardic and Armenian Traditions. However, recently I got her wonderful recording of 2006 “Lux Feminae”, an homage to light of the Woman, and her voice will stay with me for long. Montserrat Figueras was an exquisite soprano but was also an woman of rare beauty – now that she has left us, we have her voice to remember her.