On the eve of his latest Australian performances we catch up with the globe-trotting gambist.

Your Melbourne recital of music from France, England and Spain is called Les Goûts Réunis,the Baroque term for mixing cultures and styles in music. But you’ve taken that concept to a whole new level. Where does that curiosity come from?

I was born in Catalonia in Spain, where Christians, Jews and Muslims have lived together for 700 years. When I started to make music with Montserrat, my wife, we were interested in all these cultures, and from there we discovered oriental musicians, from North Africa, Istanbul, Armenia, Israel – they have all conserved musical traditions.

Do you still feel a responsibility to be “authentic” in your approach to early music?

It is authentic. On the Hespèrion XXI albums Jerusalem, Istanbul, Orient-Occident, every musician plays his music in total authenticity. We are not doing “crossover”. I will never ask a Turkish traditional musician to play Bach with me, or a Palestinian qanun player to do Monteverdi, because this would be the wrong way. But when we play a medieval dance or a medieval song from the troubadours together, they can play better than me!

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