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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It was a long time coming..., 7 Jun. 2013
By 
E. L. Wisty "World Domination League" (Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hildegard Von Bingen - Celestial Hierarchy (Audio CD)
...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.

The liturgical aspect is further emphasised by contextualising some of the pieces by conjoining them with appropriate canticles from lauds or vespers - two with a Gloria Patri, and one each with a Magnificat and Benedictus - when these works would have been performed; the booklet says that this would have been done with all of the pieces if it had not been for the time restriction allowed by a single disc. A Kyrie is also presented here in isolation.

The team of seven vocalists Bagby has assembled negotiate their way through Hildegard's wildly soaring notes skilfully, and all of the seven are good enough to get turns at solos. Sound quality is good in the main with enough of a 'cavernous' quality that you could almost imagine yourself in a twelfth century monastery, though for some reason the Benedictus after O Cohors Milice Floris sounds very 'lispy' indeed. The booklet provides some notes on Hildegard's intention and purpose with this music and Sequentia's approach to it in English, French & German, and full Latin sung texts are supplied with English translation.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars peaceful, 8 Oct. 2013
By 
M. Cox (Reading) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hildegard Von Bingen - Celestial Hierarchy (Audio CD)
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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Hildegard Von Bingen - Celestial Hierarchy
Hildegard Von Bingen - Celestial Hierarchy by Sequentia (Audio CD - 2013)
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