Trio Mediæval


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For those who have never heard the utterly distinctive sound of Norway's all-female Trio Mediaeval, this 2014 release may make a good place to start. The group has developed and honed that sound over several albums in programs featuring chant in several varieties, medieval polyphony, Norwegian folk melodies mostly harmonized in a quasi-medieval style, and contemporary compositions in a neo-medieval idiom. The last of these have been newly composed for the trio. Aquilonis includes unusual examples of each of these categories (such as chant from an Icelandic repertory), but the categories themselves are relatively balanced in comparison with earlier albums. The program develops logically, with broader melodies and instrumental sounds (including a Hardanger fiddle) introduced toward the end. All this leaves the listener free to soak up the eerily effective vocals of the trio, which go beyond a simple blend into some startling harmonic effects. This certainly isn't an authentic performance of medieval music, but neither is it a modern take that uses the simplicity of the music to meditative ends. In a way, it gets listeners closer than almost anybody else to the time when vertical sonorities in European music were new, and for those who have never heard it, it's time to begin.

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