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4.3 out of 5 stars8
4.3 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 25 October 2007
This CD represents music from some 900 years ago during the medieval period and is a fine example of early monophonic music. Monophonic, meaning one sound, is that which has a single melody with little or no accompanying harmony. Typical of this type of music is the simple `plainchant'.

Hildegard von Bingen, known also as `Blessed Hildegard' and `Saint Hildegard' was a lady named Hildegard born in the German town of Bingen. She was the first composer of music for whom a biography is written and possibly the most famous female composer since her birth in 1098 to the present day. She was also a noted author, mystic, philosopher, physician, poet, visionary, and found time to be an abbess running a Monastery of some 20 or so members (maybe she was even responsible for starting the debate about `women being better at multi-tasking than men!).

The 11 songs on this CD are a selection of Hildegard's sacred works, sung in Latin by the Oxford Camerata directed by Jeremy Summerly, recorded in 1993. The enclosed booklet very helpfully lists names of the singers who formed the Camerata at that time, and even indicates on which piece each of them sang. There's also a translation of the words into English which makes interesting and at times puzzling reading.

This Naxos budget-priced CD is a great recording which will appeal to anyone with even the slightest interest in early music. Listened to at the right time, away from the distractions of modern living, it can take you back to a time when music was simple yet so beautiful.
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It was a distressing surprise to find that my Oxford Companion to Music does not even contain an entry for Hildegard of Bingen. I had half-heard some broadcast discussion of her a few years back, but anything I know about her really comes from the liner notes with this disc, fortunately among the better specimens of their kind that I have encountered recently.
Hildegard was abbess of a distinctly upmarket Benedictine convent located near Bingen-am-Rhein in the early 12th century. She was clearly a formidable woman, being a seer and visionary consulted by Popes and potentates, a writer on scientific matters and a poet and composer as well. This disc contains 55 minutes or so of selections from her 'Symphony of the Harmony of Divine Revelations', a collection of poems in her own highly individual and vigorous version of the Latin of the time, set to her own music. The music has a distant resemblance to the Gregorian chant, believed to have originated around the 8th century. It is all monody, though some of the numbers are accompanied by a sustained background note, originating exactly where and how I could not be sure. The music contains some flourishes that would have been out of place in the plainsong but which seem natural enough in the context of her spiritual-carnal imagery. This can be downright weird here and there. My recollection is still boggling at
Nunc sit laus Deo
In forma pulchre tonsure
Viriliter operante
'Now let there be praise to God in the form of a beautiful tonsure working in manly mode'.
There is an excerpt from her musical morality-drama the Ordo Virtutum, in which an assemblage of Virtues battle with the devil for control of a woman's soul, but most of the numbers are in praise of either the Trinity, the Blessed Virgin, or saints Eucharius and Disibod. I have not in my life so far encountered anyone named after these saints, but one of the admirable Oxford Camerata rejoices in the first name Sterence, so I suppose there may be some Eucharii and Disibods out there too. The words are given in full, with English translation, both absolute essentials as far as this music is concerned. The liner note is admirably honest in refusing to take a critical position regarding the real quality and worth of such unfamiliar stuff, and I propose to follow its example. I bought this disc for curiosity, for my own education and out of a general wish to support the production of out-of-the-way music. Rating it in the matters where I feel competent to rate it, I am happy to report that the singing is of the highest order of professionalism, exactly what one has come to expect from any Summerly production, and that the recording is admirable too.
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on 10 June 2015
I fell in love with the music of Hildegard. The resonances change any given space to a high vibrational frequency and therefore inner change and elevated modes of being are sure to follow. There are a few male choral tracks which threw me a bit but after listening a few times it does create a balance and works well with the more feminine tracks. Altogether an inspirational CD that I listen to when I write, create art, meditate etc.
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on 18 March 2011
Exceptional quality of Catholic music from the 12th century. A woman of great influence, she wrote original music in praise of saints and Holy Mary. A joy to hear for afficionados of vocal religious music.
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on 3 February 2016
I've become addicted and gone in search of more HvB.
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on 22 October 2011
I enjoyed this CD but was a bit disappointed that there are tracks with male voices, since Hildegard was a nun in an order where her music would only have been written for female voices! I'd prefer an authentic recording of female only vocals, having said that, it's beautiful music and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing once I'd got over that niggle.
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on 28 July 2015
wonderful recording
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on 28 March 2013
After hearing a number of discs of Abbes Hildegard's music, this was my choice, and a very good and spiritual exposition. Nevertheless, for me it still does not catch a full monastic sound.
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