A Worcester Ladymass

reviewed by Kristine Morris

Trio Mediaeval: Anna Maria Friman, Linn Andrea Fuglseth, Torunn Ostrem Ossum, Voices

This trio of perfectly calibrated women’s voices from Oslo sings a reconstruction of a thirteenth-century votive Mass to the Virgin Mary, based on incomplete surviving manuscripts found at a Benedictine Abbey in the English Midlands. Trio Mediaeval likes to present contemporary music alongside medieval music, and the contributions of composer Gavin Bryars, a Credo and Benedicamus Domino, to complete the Mass, though different from the rest, are complementary and blend well with the medieval sounds.

The New York Times’ Allan Kozin said that “few vocal ensembles produce quite as beautiful and finely blended a sound as this Norwegian trio,” and beyond the pleasing quality of their voices, the perfection of their pitch and timing, and the seemingly eff ortless mastery of the vocal diffi culties presented by the music, the group brings a warm and human expressive quality to each phrase, shaping them with passion and care.

Although the group admits that it is impossible to know what this music would have sounded like in its own era and recognizes that it was not intended to be “performed” for an “audience” but as part of a religious experience unfamiliar to most people today, this music sounds amazingly fresh and relevant. “There is a lot of guesswork and individual intuition in medieval music performances,” said trio member Anna Maria Friman. The members of Trio Mediaeval feel that performing medieval music today “gives us the freedom to let our imaginations and ideas fl ow, as though we are creating contemporary music.”

The album can serve as a musical meditation or act of worship, or as ambient sound to create sacred space. Either way, Trio Mediaeval off ers up a delightful listening experience.

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