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Edda: Myths from Medieval Iceland

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Edda: Myths from Medieval Iceland + Yggdrasil + Gap Var Ginnunga
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Product details

  • Performer: Elizabeth Gaver, Benjamin Bagby, Susanne Norin, Barbara Thornton
  • Orchestra: Sequentia
  • Composer: Anonymous
  • Audio CD (6 Mar. 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: DHM
  • ASIN: B00000IFOM
  • Other Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 35,503 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Myths From Medieval Iceland: Leikr elds ok isa (The Song Of Fire And Ice)
2. Myths From Medieval Iceland: Veit ek at ek hekk (Odinn's Rune-verses)
3. Myths From Medieval Iceland: Hliods bid ek allar (The Prophecy Of The Seeress)
4. Myths From Medieval Iceland: Vreidr var pa Ving-Porr (The Tale Of Prymr)
5. Myths From Medieval Iceland: Nu erum komnar (The Song Of The Mill)
6. Myths From Medieval Iceland: Baldrs minni (In Memory Of Baldr)
7. Myths From Medieval Iceland: Senn voru aesir allir a pingi (Baldr's Dreams)
8. Myths From Medieval Iceland: Pat man hon folkvig (The Prophecy Of The Seeress)
9. Myths From Medieval Iceland: Ragnarok (The End Of The Gods)
10. Myths From Medieval Iceland: A fellr austan um eitrdala (The Prophecy Of The Seeress)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME on 20 Dec. 2005
Format: Audio CD
This a truly remarkable disc. The Sequentia group has long been one of my favourite groups; I count myself fortunate to have many of their discs featuring the vocal talents of Barbara Thornton, who unfortunately passed away during the final phase of this production; her gift to the world in song lives on in recordings such as this, a stunning presentation of music from history that is often forgotten in the modern world.
Iceland is a country that was settled by the Norse explorers hundreds of years before the Norman Conquest of Britain, and half a millennium before Columbus sailed across the Atlantic. The Norse explorations of the North Atlantic took them to Britain, Greenland, and even to the North American continent centuries before the arrival of Columbus. Iceland was settled in the late 800s, with a parliament being established in 930 which helped guide their culture and religion. However, Icelandic culture was never centralised in political or religious terms, and the pagan religion of Norse/Germanic gods and goddesses was a free-form body of stories that could be reinterpreted by communities and clans quite easily.
The epic work Edda, which exists from the thirteenth century in writing in both prose and poetry, is the basis of this disc. These works pre-date the manuscript by many centuries, perhaps even the settlement of Iceland itself. Like many epic works in the ancient world, they were passed down by oral tradition long before being committed to writing. The Eddic poems include heroic poems (think Beowulf) as well as poems about gods and goddesses - it is ironic that the deities in these works are often more 'down-to-earth' and human than are the heroes.
The way in which ancient poems would have been performed is always a matter of debate.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Donald Scott Barnie on 26 Feb. 2004
Format: Audio CD
A lot of research has gone into this recording, and it shows! Close your eyes, and your back in Iceland before the coming of Christianity. Even though this is based on the later settings of some of the eddas, it's the closest to the real viking language we're getting to hear!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Plimsoll on 14 Jun. 2011
Format: Audio CD
I liked it right away even though it's the first CD of this type of Icelandic music I've bought. If you like early English music, you'll probably like this too.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mark Samuelsson on 30 Sept. 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Great CD,been looking for it for while.Very fast delivery time.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 30 reviews
103 of 108 people found the following review helpful
Some Thoughts and Square Facts on this CD 13 May 2005
By Laukr - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Having listened now to this CD a fair bit I wish to comment on it. First of all I will say that it is an absolutely beautiful work: the voices, the sound of the lyre and the fiddle, the lyrics themselves (taken from the Old Norse "Elder Edda") are strange and enchanting. Here do not mistake "strange" for a negative comment: part of the beauty of the Norse myths, as with the Finnish "Kalevala", and with Professor Tolkien's "Silmarillion" and "The Lord of the Rings", comes from this sense of strangeness. Perhaps a better way of describing it would be to say that it is Teutonic (as opposed to, say, Classical or Romantic) in tone and feel, which is something altogether unique.

As I said, I find these stories to be exceptionally stirring and beautiful, and this CD provides the same feeling. But some clarity as to the nature of this CD is, I think, required.

For starters, ignore the reviewer who complained that this CD is sung in Latin; it is not. It is in Old Icelandic. (How this person came to this conclusion I can't imagine: a quick glance at the liner notes -- which are excellent, by the way, providing a dual text in Old Icelandic and Modern English -- should make this apparant: lines such as "Surtr ferr sunnan með sviga lævi / skinn af sverði sol valtiva" are clearly *not* Latin.)

However, the mistake is perhaps not without cause, for the CD (and this is important to note) is sung in the style of old Latin Gregorian chants. The inflection on the language is Latinate, *not* Norse. The reason I say this is important is because the CD claims it is singing approximately the way the ancient Norsemen would have sung these lays, but this is not so close to the truth as other reviews would imply. The fact is that Old Icelandic (as with all the Germanic languages) is a language of accents and stresses which is wholly distinct from the Romance languages. You can see this evidenced in the alliteration of the actual Eddic text: "*Brœðr* muno *beriaz* ok at *bonum* verðaz", for instance; or "Her stendr *Baldri* of *brugginn* mioðr, / *skirar* veigar, liggr *skioldr* yfir."

I was quite disappointed by this, having hoped very strongly to hear a fair-to-good example of what actual Norsemen long ago would have sounded like, chanting these mysterious songs. BUT: as I said before, I find this nevertheless to be a very moving and beatiful collection. The manner in which it is sung, though evoking Latin tradition, still captures something of the feel of these ancient poems. Perhaps it is because that Gregorian chant style simply, in general, evokes something of an older world. (One notices how popular it has been made by film composers such as John Williams in the recent "Star Wars" and "Harry Potter" films, as well as Howard Shore in the "LotR" scores; and, furthermore, has been used with dubious results by a host of other imitators.)

So that's it, then. Old Norse language and text, but sung in an old Latin style; not authentic, but nevertheless evocative of a mysterious and ancient world which I find very beautiful. I recommend this CD to all lovers of medieval-style music, as well as lovers of the Eddic poems in particular. Just know the facts on what you're listening to.
35 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Udmærket! 15 July 2000
By Aage Nielsen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Myths From Medieval Iceland is the best slice of Nordic culture since Iceland's Bjørk Gudmundsdottir burst on the pop scene with her band Sugarcubes. Seriously, this recording of exerpts from the Edda are executed with as much passion as Sequentia ever put in to recording the entire works of Hildegard von Bingen. The universal appeal of this work was verified by one of my clarinet students when he took this and 5 other examples of Medieval music to give a presentation in an English class. The Icelandic offering was the clear favorite among TEENAGERS! It is heartbreaking that the world lost Sequentia's co-founder Barbara Thornton during the final editing phase of this recording. She had such a perfect balance between historically informed performance practices and delivering work with unbridled passion. What a loss. We are truly fortunate that she left behind such immaculate work as this.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
musicianship and scholarship in a perfect blend 26 Mar. 2002
By End User - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Sequentia, known primarily for their excellent interpretations of the works of Hildegaard von Bingen, turn their attention here to the poetry and music of 13th Century Iceland. With eager and well pursued scholarship, they have attempted to recreate a lost musical experience, down to the archaic pronunciation of the Old Icelandic. The music is eerie and affecting, the singing and playing are stirring, and the program is extremely solid.
The sound of the lyre and fiddles (complete with droning strings) mesh perfectly with the powerful and beautiful voices as Sequentia sings, tells, and acts out ancient Norse Myths from the poetry of Snorri Sturlusson and others.
I guarantee you've never heard anything quite like this.
31 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Powerful Myths + Scholarly Musicians = Incredible Experience 15 Mar. 2001
By Elderbear - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
It doesn't hurt to have read the myths beforehand, to know Voluspa--at least a translation of the material. But, even without knowing what is going on, the beauty of this music invites one to wander into a different mindspace. The computer can fade away. The CD player--gone.
Now, sitting around the fire, listen to the Edda (grandmother) tell the stories. Tonight the wind doesn't howl so loudly, the snow isn't so cold, bards have joined Edda to remind us of the tales of our heritage.
Is this what our distant Viking kin used to listen to back in their great halls? Absent sound recordings, we'll never know for sure. I do miss the percussion I've heard on other recordings of ancient music.
The stark simplicity of this music compels. "Listen to me!" Hear the words of the Witch, of Voluspa. Hear the tale of Thrym, who steals Thor's hammer and gets taken in by a ruse. "Balder's Dreams" haunts the listener, who knows Balder's fate.
It's interesting to spend 76 minutes listening to this music, then to drop Wagner onto the CD player. The contrast, from the spartan Icelandic music to the richness of the 19th century compositions, can cause a brainquake!
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Great 7 May 2002
By Andrea Moreno - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I love this CD so much that I can't think of what to say about it. For starters, the voices are wonderful - the combination of licoricey baritone, cool sopranos and spare instrumentals is both sensual and stark; the harmonies, sometimes only one note apart, are happy puzzles for the ear. More than the physical beauty of the music though, are the tales - familiar but told in an unfamiliar tongue and couched in the exotic imagery of pagan Iceland. This is like music in a dream - you know it but it's utterly strange and for me, mesmerizing.
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