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Posted October 1, 2010
Hildegard of Bingen, "Celestial Harmonies: Responsories and Antiphons" Hildegard is of course the multi-talented abbess from the 12th Century who has been rediscovered to great acclaim in recent years. Her range and accomplishments are legendary particularly, she anticipated many creative progressions of the future, including writing what could be the first Opera. While some recent interpretations of her work have expanded her chorales with instrumentation, this disc focuses on the works in their pure a capella beauty. A quartet of women and a quarter of men, chosen from the Oxford Camerata, alternate on separate pieces. The songs are monophonic chants, drifting on soaring leads that echo within a cathedral. The call and response form of the songs allow sterling solos and lush choirs to compliment each other in turn. It is a pure and lifting sound, both ethereal and moving. The music is wonderful for either communal celebration or quiet comtemplation. Admirers of Hildegard's genius, beautiful voices, plainsong choirs, or Opera will love this smart collection. But Pop music fans shouldn't miss out either. If you like Yma Sumac's high dynamics, Edda Dell'Orso's angelic leads for Ennio Morricone soundtracks, Julee Cruise's TWIN PEAKS work with Angelo Badalamente, or radiant vocalists like Jeff Buckley, Muse, Radiohead, Antony and the Johnsons, Bjork, Vashti Bunyan, or early Joni Mitchell, I highly recommend this as a starter disc.
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