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Posted October 1, 2010
This latest addition to the list of CDs offering the music of Hildegard von Bingen is on the Profil label from the German Haenssler company.
Compared with most other CDs offering music by Hildegard von Bingen, there are several negative aspects to this disk. The program notes give only the Latin titles (with no English translations) of the twelve works performed. There is no information about the composer: when she was born; when she died; in which country she lived; what her position was in society, etc. There is no information on the music. What are the Marienlieder (Marian Songs)? What is the Dendermonde Codex (Villarenser Kodex)? What is an Antiphon? What is a Responsorium? What constitutes a Sequenz? No information is given on the performing ensemble, the Ensemble Mediatrix. I had to search the web for some answers. Ensemble Mediatrix is a group of eleven professional women. Much information about the composer is available from the Hildegard Society, which has its own website (http://www.hildegard-society.org/). See also: <http://www.hildegard-society.org/faq.html>. However, buyers of this CD who have no computer will learn virtually nothing from the sleeve-notes about the composer, her music, or the performing group.
To add to the list of complaints, the playing time of 55:19 is stingy, and the printed-material proofreader did a poor job: on the front is printed "Femina forma Maria"; on the back is printed "Feminea forma Maria."
On the plus side, all of the tracks except "Ave generosa" appear to be new to CD. The ensemble performs suberbly, and the recording quality is outstanding, with good ambiance. It is, however, so closely miked that one can hear the singers breathe in, which I find slightly distracting. For those wishing to add to their collection of this composer's music, this is a valuable CD, but it is not a good one with which to start one's collection.