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Musical Christian Mysticism committed to CD
on 15 December 2001
I first heard this on the radio, and one track in particular - "O Virga Mediatrix" sung with harp accompaniment, performed by Laurie Monahan. I had studied Sacred Vocal music for 'A'level, with particular attention to the mediaeval period but had heard nothing like this before. A delicate beauty and a profound peace seemed to accompany this track. It has a greater breadth in terms of "soul-feel" to male Gregorian chanting. I bought this album and have never been disappointed. Sequentia capture successfully Hildegard's mystical approach to her beloved God. The music is more than just a text setting as Hildegard attempted (successfully in my opinion) to try and capture, quite literally, the heavenly harmony of the spheres. It is not surprising that Sequentia have won a barrel full of awards for their interpretation of von Bingen's hitherto neglected works of beauty. I would say out of the Sequentia albums I possess of her work, this album is the triumph of this German mystic's "ecstasy".
The other tracks show Hildegard's ability to get inside the meaning of the texts to present them in ways which are not just understood by the ear but also instinctively by the soul. For those who feel a particular connection to Mary, this album is full of pieces honouring her, but not in the distant, side-lined cliche of dogma we have come to experience down the centuries. Rather, by using Mary, Hildegard had no fear of reaching out to touch the female principle of the heavens and then to bring that down to earth under the name of the mother and maiden Mary. An interesting insight, particularly as male interpretation of Mary as a figure is quite different. This is a woman's approach to the work of a woman and finds the female mystical spirit in that, and then commits it to music. And all this from a woman who entered convent life at the age of 9 !!
This is a fine CD and I cannot recommend it highly enough.