Capella de Ministrers releases the album ‘El collar de la paloma’ on the 1,000th anniversary of one of the most beautiful love books.

Capella de Ministrers has published the album ‘El collar de la paloma’, a work based on the homonymous book by the Andalusian humanist, poet, and writer Ibn Hazm (Córdoba, 994 – Montija, 1064), considered one of the most outstanding works of Arabic literature. The ensemble celebrates the 1,000 years of this work with an audiovisual project, which includes the CD and three videos, and has the collaboration of the municipalities of Córdoba and Xàtiva (Valencia), the city where it was written in the year 1022.

Carles Magraner, director of Capella de Ministrers, addresses the texts of Hazm in the 20 tracks of this album, which are set to music with modal improvisations (mawwāl) or adaptations of instrumental music, classical songs, and anonymous Arab-Andalusian traditional songs. The songs are grouped into five blocks around the foundations of love; the power of gaze; the accidents and qualities of love; loving union, fidelity, and betrayal; and conformity, jealousy, and forgetfulness.

n the videos, the ensemble performs three of the album’s tracks: “Reproches y quejas” (Reproaches and Complaints), “Desearía rajar mi corazón con un cuchillo” (I Wish to Split My Heart with a Knife), and “Trátame como quieras” (Treat Me as You Wish). The making-of of the work, which was recorded at the Palacio de Orive, the Biblioteca Viva de Al-Ándalus, and the Archaeological Ensemble of Medina Azahara in Córdoba, as well as at the Museo Municipal del Almodí in Xàtiva in January, is also included.

For the album, which will be distributed in more than 28 countries and on various platforms worldwide starting on February 14th (Valentine’s Day), a date associated, from a secular perspective, with feelings of love and friendship, Magraner (recorder and violas) has collaborated with singer Iman Kandoussi (vocals), and musicians Robert Cases (harp and rubab), Aziz Samsaoui (kanun and saz), Kaveh Sarvarian (nay and tombak), and Miguel Ángel Orero (percussion). This latest album, which will be presented in Valencia (March 25th), Córdoba (April 20th), Xàtiva (May 6th), and other cities, is the 65th release of a musical group that celebrates 35 years of artistic career this year and is an international reference in historical music.

Raquel Caballero, Councilor for Tourism and Culture of the City of Xàtiva, stated that “the new album by Capella de Ministrers is undoubtedly an extraordinary birthday gift to celebrate the thousand years of the literary work ‘El collar de la paloma’. It is a project in which Xàtiva wanted to be part of and that will undoubtedly become a national, European, and worldwide reference due to its meticulous selection, quality repertoire, and excellent performance.”

The councilor emphasized that the initiative “has brought together Xàtiva and Córdoba, becoming a tool for territorial cohesion and historical dissemination, and also allows us to increase awareness of medieval music and further value our musical, artistic, and literary heritage.”

Marián Aguilar, Delegate of Culture of the City of Córdoba, stated that this project “recovers part of our collective memory” and that their intention is to program this repertoire recorded in Córdoba as a concert that “opens our Festival of Early Music and the Three Cultures. This premiere, led by one of the best early music ensembles in our country, will be a milestone in our festival, a top-level cultural incentive.” Aguilar, Caballero, and Roger Cerdà, Mayor of Xàtiva, held a meeting at the International Tourism Fair (FITUR) where they discussed the activities and collaborations that will be carried out together to commemorate the millennium.

Tribute to Ibn Hazm and Andalusian literature

Meanwhile, Magraner emphasized that “this project pays tribute to Ibn Hazm and one of the most beautiful love books of Andalusian literature, of which he is a great exponent.” The viola da gamba player and musicologist highlights that “it is a musical journey through love as understood and experienced by the author in the 11th century, a heritage that belongs to us and that we value”; and he thanked the support of the municipalities of Córdoba and Xàtiva for this initiative, which will serve to “develop various synergies and cultural collaborations between administrations and institutions.”

‘El collar de la paloma’ is a prose work interspersed with poetic passages written by Hazm in Arabic, in which the underlying theme of all the topics it explores is the love that accompanied the author throughout his life and serves as a basis for his philosophical reasoning. According to the philosopher and writer José Ortega y Gasset, the book is “the most illustrious on the subject of love in Muslim civilization,” as he stated in a prologue to the texts of the Cordovan author, whose life and exile passed through Málaga, Valencia, Xàtiva, Almería, Denia, Mallorca, and Seville, before finally taking refuge in the family farmhouse of Niebla, near Montija (Huelva), where he passed away.

This poetic anthology is a collection of reflections on the true essence of love and attempts to discover what it has in common and remains unchanged throughout the centuries and civilizations. It reveals autobiographical details and aspects of the experience of love, making it a firsthand testimony of the experience of love in Al-Andalus during the Umayyad dynasty.