Inspiration: Hildegard Von Bingen - Lieder Und Visionen

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HILDEGARD OF BINGEN 14 Songs • Michael Popp, dir; VocaMe • BERLIN 0300425 (57:47 Text and Translation) Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179) came to wide attention...

HILDEGARD OF BINGEN 14 Songs Michael Popp, dir; VocaMe BERLIN 0300425 (57:47 Text and Translation)

Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179) came to wide attention only in 1982 with the release of Gothic Voices’ collection of eight of her works, their first recording and Hyperion’s first best seller. It was preceded by a few obscure recordings, including a full LP made at her convent at Eibingen (now on CD), but the spate of recordings that marked her anniversary year of 1998 was an extraordinary outpouring. By that time, Sequentia had made nearly her complete works, lacking only a final disc that was never recorded because of the untimely death of Barbara Thornton (the missing pieces have all been recorded by others before or since then). Lately we have had only an occasional issue, most recently Barbara Zanichelli’s ( Fanfare 35:4).

These selections skip the most familiar pieces, but range from the relatively familiar O ignis Spiritus and O virga ac diadema to the seldom-recorded Aer enim volat, O virga media , and O spectabiles , the last not found in Sequentia’s set. The disc concludes with another version of the first piece on the disc, Studium divinitatis , recorded this time using a Kunstkopf , translated here as dummy head, in which two microphones are placed at the position of ears on a dummy head to capture the appropriate sound for listening through headphones. To enhance the effect, the singers move about in space to demonstrate the advantage of the system. I seem to recall that this technique enjoyed a vogue in the early days of stereo in Germany. Today’s popularity of earbuds for portable players might encourage its revival.

This new vocal ensemble of four women, directed and accompanied by Michael Popp, offers an assortment of antiphons and sequences, along with two responsories and her only alleluia verse. All but two pieces are accompanied by Popp on various medieval and exotic instruments, along with Ernst Schwindl on the hurdy-gurdy. Popp and his guest player were the founders of Estampie, the medieval-music ensemble that made some CDs for Christophorus. (I once called them the true successors of Ensemble für frühe Musik, not exactly a compliment in the context.) The songs are embellished with improvised organum, which combines with the instruments to set this program apart from a considerable number of recordings, both solo and choral, that present Hildegard’s unadorned melodies in their stark simplicity. Yet the group means well and respects Hildegard’s inspiration, if not the liturgical setting that she worked in. Among my favorite Hildegard CDs are the collections made at Eibingen (19:3; 21:3), by Johannes Berchmans Göschl (21:1 or 34:2; 21: 3), by Anonymous 4 (21:1), and by Jeremy Summerly on two Naxos discs (19:2; 32:2).

FANFARE: J. F. Weber

Product Description:

  • Release Date: November 16, 2012

  • UPC: 885470004259

  • Catalog Number: BC0300425

  • Label: Berlin Classics

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Composer: Hildegard of Bingen

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Vocame

  • Performer: Vocame