VOICE OF THE BLOOD is so named because the texts of Hildegard of Bingen's songs performed here refer often to the spilled blood of St. Ursula and her 11,000 virgins. Sequentia wonderfully presents Hildegard's monophonic "song cycle" here in the order she probably intended. … Thanks, Sequentia, for bringing this savory piece of history to life!
Sequentia’s Hildegard von Bingen Project: Initially in collaboration with the West German Radio Cologne (WDR Köln) Sequentia made a series of recordings of the complete works of Germany’s most important medieval composer, the abbess and visionary Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179). After recording the music drama, Ordo Virtutum, Sequentia went on to make a first recording of the abbess’s symphoniae, spiritual songs which were probably sung in the liturgy of her convent on the Rupertsberg in the late 12th century. A group of nine female vocalists under Barbara Thornton’s direction is complemented by five instrumentalists in this recording made over a period of a year, in two different medieval German churches.
"I think there in the field of medieval music ensemble with a better level of interpretation and musicological rigor that Sequentia Ensemble. This vinyl is a convincing example. The pity is, that at least one of its members no longer living. In memory of Barbara Thornton. "
When you’ve got a good thing going, why mess around with it? That seems to be the philosophy that’s guided this amazing quartet to an unbroken string of 10 highly acclaimed recordings–and you can add this one to the list…
Paul Gerhardt (12 March 1607 – 27 May 1676) was a German hymn writer. Gerhardt is considered Germany's greatest hymn writer. Many of his best-known hymns were originally published in various church hymnbooks, as for example in that for Brandenburg, which appeared in 1658. The first complete collection is the Geistliche Andachten, published in 1666-1667 by Ebeling, music director in Berlin. No hymn by Gerhardt of a later date than 1667 is known to exist.
The music of the 12th century poet and composer Hildegard von Bingen continues to exert a spell on the modern imagination, and not just among those who are (rightly) eager to seize on her as an early feminist icon. The chant melodies, rendered here with heartfelt elegance by the women’s chorus Vajra Voices under the direction of Karen R. Clark, are striking in both their shapeliness and the spiritual fervor that runs through them. To a modern listener, accustomed to hearing melodic lines combined in contrapuntal mesh or harmonic byplay, the spareness of these textures - even with the deft accompaniment of Shira Kammen on the vielle (a bowed string instrument) and medieval harp - can make them seem attenuated. But listen more closely, and Hildegard’s careful attentiveness to the liturgical texts, with all their implications, becomes ever more affecting.
In my copy’s booklet, there’s a translation botch by which the German “alle Stücke, die aus handschriftlichen Ausgaben musiziert werden, basieren auf direkten Konsultationen mit Wiesbaden MS, eingerichtet von Barbara Thornton” becomes “All pieces performed from diplomatic editions based on direct consultation with Wiesbaden Ms, prepared by Barbara Thornton”. How did “diplomacy” get involved with that, I don’t know. No, I take that back, I do know: it's probably "diplomatic" in the now rare sense of "related to diplomatics" (not diplomacy), which are "the science of deciphering old official documents, as charters, and of determining their authenticity, age, or the like".