- 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)
Hildegard Von Bingen - Celestial Hierarchy
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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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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