For this 2012 AVIE release, Jeannette Sorrell and Cleveland's early music ensemble Apollo's Fire join forces with Sylvain Bergeron and Montreal's La Nef to present a festive program of late Medieval Christmas music from Celtic traditions, drawing largely on Scottish and Irish sources. Dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries and featuring texts in Latin, Gaelic, and English, the varied selections on Sacrum Mysterium provide strong cultural interest and a wide emotional range to satisfy fans of historical music and authentic practices, as well as casual listeners. The serene chants, rollicking jigs, solemn hymns, and joyous carols reveal the mixture of devout piety and secular revelry that typified Christmas music in the period, and the performances reflect the wide array of instruments available at the time, including bagpipes, lutes, recorders, viols, Celtic harp, and percussion. Meredith Hall's charismatic singing is a major selling-point because of her expressive depth and sublime vocal control, and the chorus is smooth in delivery and well-balanced with Hall and the instrumental ensemble. The CD is accompanied by a DVD that offers video of performances from the album.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson