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Hildegard von Bingen : Celestial Harmonies Import
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Abbess Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179): Celestial Harmonies: Responsories and Antiphons from Symphoniae armonie celestium revelationum Hildegard of Bingen was a remarkable being. In a postmodern Europe that still has to remind itself that women can write inspired music, Hildegard s compositional beacon shines from a distance of eight and a half centuries. In today s Europe, science, religion, and diplomacy make strange bedfellows, yet Hildegard appears not only to have reconciled all three, but actively to have investigated their common roots. Given the unusual combination of Hildegard s accomplishments, perhaps the most comforting aspect of this saintly figure s uniqueness is that she was not only a woman, but a peculiarly feminine one. Born into the Rhenish aristocracy in 1098, Hildegard entered a convent eight years later because she was her parents tenth child; she spent the remainder of her eighty years as a nun, the latter half as abbess of her own convent. Hildegard was not universally popular during her lifetime: the establishment of her own convent at Rupertsberg near Bingen (into which she attracted twenty nuns of noble birth) was elitist. Added to which, Hildegard s community worshipped in fine jewellery and ostentatious headgear. Our stereotypical image of the frugal medieval abbess in enclosed orders may therefore be wide of the mark. It seems rather that the sensuality of Hildegard s music and poetry sprung from an individualistic view of high Benedictinism. Hildegard s great musico-poetic collection was completed around the year 1150. Symphonia armonie celestium revelationum ( Symphony of the harmony of heavenly revelations ) is a collection of 77 songs and one music drama. The subjects of these songs are an idiosyncratic collection of individuals and groups the pieces included on this recording are variously addressed to the Creator, the Redeemer, the Blessed Virgin Mary, St John the Evangelist, Apostles, Confessors, and Martyrs. The five antiphons each frame a segment of psalm verses (taken from Psalms 22, 78, 23, 61, and 113 respectively) and the responsories make use of a refrain two items in abcb form (O vos imitatores and O dulcis electe) and one (O vis aeternitatis) in abcbdb. Critics remain divided as to the assessment of Hildegard s competence as a poetess and musician. Her colourful imagery and capricious melodies can appear inspired or unpolished according to your point of view. To some, these songs appear repetitive and formulaic; to others they are coherent works of genius. And while Hildegard s lack of formal training in Latin results in inconsistencies and poor construction, the absence of grammatical convention enables a torrent of original imagery to bypass traditional poetic shackles. Jeremy Summerly
Not sure what Hildegard would have thought of CDs, but I hope the 12th-century abbess would have enjoyed these responsories and antiphons, in a resonant accoustic ideal for this sensuous music and Jeremy Summerly's unaccompanied choir (trimmed to eight voices). For tingling excitement, nothing matches the sopranos' crazy leaps toward Heaven in the epic O cohors milittiae. Thoughtful performances. (The Times, May 2008)
We remember Hildegard if nothing else for her 1980s "revival", or perhaps from Anonymous 4's hit 1997 recording featuring "Chants for the Feast of St. Ursula" (with the provocative title 11,000 Virgins). Her writings, her prophecies and visions, her poetry and music, and her founding and nearly 30-year leadership of the convent at Rupertsberg established Hildegard as one of the more remarkable and influential figures of her time; the question today is how to best present her music--long sequences of unison chant--which of course was intended for worship and prayer, not for "performance". Some have answered that question by arranging the melodies--for string quartet (Kronos Quartet), brass ensemble (Empire Brass), solo voice and cello (Matt Haimovitz, Eileen Clark)--or even "reworking" them with added percussion, whistles, electronic sounds, and cellos (Richard Souther). Some performers seek authenticity by employing only female voices, but there is good evidence that her music also would have been sung during her lifetime by men. So this program, its selections taken from Hildegard's collection of 77 "poetical-musical" works known as Symphonia armonie celestium revelationum (Symphony of the harmony of celestial revelations) and presented in their original, unadulterated form (no whistles, cellos, or tubas!), takes a very sensible and listener-friendly route: the eight responsories and antiphons alternate between one group of four women and one of four men. The contrast of timbres from track to track is a nice effect, and thanks to some very well-matched and impressively well-practiced voices, the inflections, phrasing, and even the smallest nuances of textual emphasis achieve the desired uniformity while retaining the interesting tonal character of four combined voices. (We shouldn't be surprised at the high level of technical and musical accomplishment demonstrated here--a glance at the list of singers reveals several of Britain's finest, most experienced and versatile choral musicians.) Oxford's Chapel of Hertford College proves to be an ideal venue for this pure, unadorned, unaccompanied vocal music, and Jeremy Summerly's short but informative notes provide just enough details to give listeners new to this music a start in understanding the mystique of this fascinating and uniquely gifted celebrity from the 12th-century--a true Renaissance woman long before the Renaissance was invented. (ClassicsToday.com, June 2008)
Hildegard of Bingen was a composer who set her own meditative texts in a chant-like style suited to spiritual contemplation, and whose varied accomplishments made her a medieval celebrity. In these responsories and antiphons, Jeremy Summerly's pure-voiced sopranos bring rhythmic purpose to her waywardly ecstatic melodies, without impairing their heady devotional atmosphere . Beauty of sound fully compensates these settings of a mystical poetry, still as enigmatic in translation as in Hildegard's indiosyncratic Latin. (Daily Telegraph (UK), June 2008)
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A découvrir et à savourer !
Une qualité d'enregistrement impeccable qui laisse apprécier ....le silence.
A écouter je pense en plusieurs fois si l'on est pas habitué à ce genre de musique.
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ce cd et les commentaires sur le cd ne sont vraiment pas terrible sans rythme et pretextant que hildegard n'avait pas bien maitriser
le latin alors seul langue ecrite a... Lire la suite
J'écrivais pour RCF - Radios Chrétiennes Francophones - une étude sur cette femme remarquable que l’Église vient de canoniser. Lire la suitePublié le 19 avril 2013 par Bernard MILLET