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Hildegard Von Bingen - Celestial Hierarchy

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Includes FREE MP3 version of this album.
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Product details

  • Performer: Sequentia
  • Audio CD (13 May 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony Music Classical
  • ASIN: B00BN1QVZS
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 173,316 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Product Description

Since the early 1980’s, the ensemble Sequentia’s name has been closely linked with the music of Hildegard von Bingen, the visionary abbess whose musical compositions are among the most astonishing and unique creations from the dynamic milieu of 12th-century Benedictine monasticism. For this recording, a multi-generational ensemble of seven women’s voices has been assembled, together with the flautist Norbert Rodenkirchen and Bagby playing harp. Sequentia is one of the world’s most respected and innovative ensembles for medieval music. It is an international group of singers and instrumentalists – united in Paris under the direction of the legendary performer and teacher Benjamin Bagby – dedicated to the performance and recording of Western European music from the period before 1300. Based on meticulous and original research, intensive rehearsal and long gestation, Sequentia’s virtuosic performances are compelling, surprising in their immediacy, and strike the listener with a timeless emotional connection to our own past musical cultures.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

By E. L. Wisty TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 7 Jun. 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
...and I don't mean the two weeks in the post it took for this to fall on my doormat. The Sequentia project to record all of Hildegard's work came to a halt way back in 1998 after eight discs with the untimely death of co-founder Barbara Thornton. In the meantime Thornton's husband and Sequentia's other co-founder Benjamin Bagby has worked on many other projects, but in 2012 with Hildegard's elevation to both sainthood and Doctor Ecclesiae sparking another surge in interest in her music, he decided to complete the project and honour Thornton's life's work, gathering together a new generation of singers.

Listeners familiar with the earlier discs will hear something more sparse this time. The notes indicate that whilst it is known from Hildegard's biographer and secretary Guibert of Gembloux that she did perform her works with instrumental accompaniment, and that Hildegard's own letters demonstrate her admiration for flute and harp amongst others, Sequentia have decided to focus rather more on the liturgical purpose of the music here, and the "living declamation" of the texts. That's not to say that instrumentation has disappeared entirely, but there is less of it, restricted more to solo antiphons plus giving "stability to the large scale structure" of O Vos Angeli, with flute from Norbert Rodenkirchen on two tracks and harp from Bagby himself on one.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I bought this cd after hearing the first track on BBC 3 radio. The other tracks are lovely and well sung but after a while become more of the same. Perhaps best used in a random mix selection system
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is wonderful. It totally relaxes you.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x95498480) out of 5 stars 4 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x953e272c) out of 5 stars Generally sweet and ethereal 27 Aug. 2013
By John J. Puccio - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Sequentia made this ninth and concluding entry in their survey of Bingen's work exactly thirty years after their first album in the run, which they made back in 1982, all of them for Deutsche Harmonia Mundi. That's both dedication and staying power. And releasing this final disc at a point where the meditative music composed or sung by women is so much in the public eye shouldn't hurt sales.

Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179), also known as Saint Hildegard of Bingen and Sibyl of the Rhine, was something of a jack-of-all trades. She was a German writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, Benedictine abbess, visionary, and intellectual. Her fellow nuns elected her a magistrate in 1136; she founded the monasteries of Rupertsberg and Eibingen in 1150 and 1165 respectively; and scholars consider one of her works, the Ordo Virtutum, an early example of liturgical drama and perhaps the oldest surviving morality play. Beyond her many volumes of visionary theology, she wrote a variety of musical compositions for use in liturgical services, which is what Sequentia have now addressed in their nine albums documenting Hildegard's work.

Sequentia as currently constituted comprise seven female singers: Lydia Brotherton, Agnethe Chritensen, Esther Labourdette, Sabine Lutzenberger, Christine Mothes, Elodie Mourot, and Lena Susanne Norin; plus two instrumentalists on select numbers: Norbert Rodenkirchen, flutes, and the group's cofounder Benjamin Bagby, harp. Mr. Bagby and the late Barbara Thornton founded the group in 1977, and even though with the exception of Bagby the performers have changed over the years, they perform together as if they had been doing it all their lives; that is, heavenly.

The music on Celestial Hierarchy represents the hymns Hildegard devoted to the angels, patriarchs, prophets, martyrs, and confessors, as well as John the Evangelist and Mary the Mother of Jesus. That was the "celestial hierarchy" she celebrated. Praising God in word and song was an important part of Hildegard's worship, a practice she believed allowed her to reconnect with her origins and achieve a state of self-realization. The present album contains ten numbers (a little over seventy minutes) representing the devotions of her theology, a collection of antiphons (psalms, hymns, or prayers sung in alternate parts) and responsories (anthems sung after a portion of sacred writing by a soloist and choir alternately).

The songs float radiantly above us, sweet and ethereal, and Sequentia perform them with exquisite care and precision. However, I wish I could be as enthusiastic about Hildegard of Bingen's music as I am about Sequentia's performance of it. Hildegard's venerations of the Saints can begin sounding a bit the same after the first few items, and over an hour of them can become tiring to a novice like me. What's more, Sequentia use instrumental accompaniment, flute and harp, quite sparingly and only on three of the ten selections. I would advise a word of caution, therefore, upon entering these waters: If you are already a fan of Hildegard's work, you will find no better a collection of her music than the present disc; but if you are new to the genre, you may find yourself wondering if it isn't too much of a good thing. Nevertheless, since when is too much of something good ever a bad thing? I'd further advise the first-time listener to begin with track six, "O Victoriosissimi Triumphatores," with its lovely harp accompaniment.

Good, rich, resonant sound completes the picture.

John J. Puccio
Classical Candor
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x954cda14) out of 5 stars If you like Sequentia or Hildegard this is a no-brainer! 20 Mar. 2014
By J P Romack - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
It's not may favorite from Sequentia or of Hildegard's music but it's worth having all the same. Same great quality.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x95485390) out of 5 stars Five Stars 14 April 2015
By Frank Chao - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Excellent cd.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x953e0684) out of 5 stars Five Stars 8 Oct. 2014
By Wojciech Drab - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Must have!
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