The Norwegian women's ensemble Trio Mediaeval specializes in early music, but also sings new music, and in this album it branches out to arrangements of folk songs. Folk musician Tone Krohn and group member Linn Andrea Fuglseth made the arrangements, which are magical and lovely. Given the constantly evolving conventions of the folk repertoire, the trio and arrangers are under no constraints to discover and follow an authentic performance practice for the songs, so the arrangements are stylistically and idiomatically varied. They retain the simplicity of a folk song, but the harmonies frequently push the folk style toward a heightened expressivity through the judicious (and highly effective) use of dissonance. One of the most striking characteristics of the arrangements is the textural variety they achieve -- it's frequently hard to believe that only three voices are able to create such a rich contrapuntal web. The group sings with great purity and excellent blend, so the tart harmonies really ring, and their rhythmic incisiveness keeps the music lilting. Birger Mistereggen accompanies them on various percussion instruments, drums, and jew's harp. His contributions are discreet, but add immeasurably to the color and atmospheric variety of the music. ECM's sound is characteristically immaculate, with good resonance. The beautifully performed and produced disc should appeal equally to lovers of folk music, women's voices, and contemporary music for small vocal ensembles.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins