Mnemosyne

Mnemosyne

by Jan Garbarek
     
 
ECM's guru Manfred Eicher had the brilliant idea to bring together Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek and the Hilliard Ensemble, an early music vocal quartet. The magical combination of medieval song and soaring improvisation made OFFICIUM (1994) -- the recording made at their

Overview

ECM's guru Manfred Eicher had the brilliant idea to bring together Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek and the Hilliard Ensemble, an early music vocal quartet. The magical combination of medieval song and soaring improvisation made OFFICIUM (1994) -- the recording made at their first meeting -- an unexpected success. On MNEMOSYNE the musicians go even further. The Hilliards now draw on two millennia's worth of music, including a second-century Greek hymn, an Iroquois "Eagle Dance," and one of Garbarek's own compositions. Many of the pieces are so fragmentary that the singers must also improvise their parts. With 20 tracks filling up two CDs, the program is amazingly varied, yet the effect is totally unified. MNEMOSYNE is also more daring than its predecessor, with a few effective excursions into dissonance. Those who want the kind of ethereal, meditative experience OFFICIUM offered will certainly find it here, but MNEMOSYNE's greater emotional range is even more involving and satisfying.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Richard S. Ginell
Garbarek and the Hilliard Ensemble waited nearly five years before trying to follow up their surprisingly successful Officium album, but finally they came through with an even more adventurous two-CD set of jazzman-meets-early-music-voices. Here, their range straddles no less than three milleniums (just missing a fourth by a couple of years), from the "Delphic Paean" of Athenaeus circa 127 B.C. to a lullaby by the contemporary Estonian composer Veljo Tormis, with intervening contributions by Hildegard von Bingen, William Billings, and Thomas Tallis, Iroquois Indians, Basque and Peruvian folksongs, and many more far-flung choices. Most daringly, the four voices themselves now start to improvise on scraps of ancient material culled from old book bindings and the like, though it's hard to determine exactly where this occurs (probably during some passages of wordless vocalise). Ultimately, despite the freer methods, the results are often pretty much the same as Officium on disc one -- soothing, timeless sonic frescos reverberantly recorded in the same Austrian St. Gerold monastery, with Garbarek soaring over or threading through the texture ever more sparingly. Yet on disc two, Garbarek and the Hilliards start to move into other worlds, breaking into something more disturbing and even atonal in that ancient "Delphic Paean," the syncopated harmonies of Garbarek's own "Loiterando," or a strange-sounding Russian Psalm from the 16th century. This is a collaboration in transition, and one hopes it will continue to evolve.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/05/1999
Label:
Ecm Import
UPC:
0028946512227
catalogNumber:
465122

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Jan Garbarek   Primary Artist,Saxophone,Soprano Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Hilliard Ensemble   Track Performer,Vocal Ensemble
Gordon Jones   Baritone (Vocal)
John Potter   Tenor (Vocal)
David James   Counter Tenor (Vocal)

Technical Credits

Antoine Brumel   Composer
Guillaume Dufay   Composer
Hildegard von Bingen   Composer
Thomas Tallis   Composer
Jan Garbarek   Composer
William Billings   Composer
Manfred Eicher   Producer
John Potter   Liner Notes
Peter Laenger   Engineer
Sascha Kleis   Cover Design
Veljo Tormis   Composer
Martine Passelaigue   translation
Friedrich Holderlin   Text

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