Hildegarde Portraits

Voice Trio

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Hildegarde Portraits Review

by James Manheim

The Voice vocal trio is not the only ensemble to have performed the chants of Hildegard of Bingen, a compelling figure not only due to her status as an early female composer but also because of the seeming subjectivity of her works; she was, in a word, a composer with a name in a genre that was mostly anonymous. It is that subjectivity that is exploited in this recording by Voice, which combines Hildegard's pieces with contemporary works inspired by her in various ways. Hildegard Portraits takes its title from that of a set of pieces by Laura Moody that set texts from Hildegard's letters, reinforcing the sense of an individual behind the music. Moody's works, with spoken words and syllabic drones, show the influence of Luciano Berio, while other contemporary works have various styles and degrees of connection with Hildegard. Many will be drawn, as with Voice's other albums, to the beauty and precision of the three-part female harmonies, but this album additionally represents a fresh way of presenting medieval chant, and it's highly recommended, especially to those contemplating chant repertories other than the music of Hildegard.

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