COMPOSERS: Hildegard Of Bingen/Meredith Monk
LABELS: BMG Catalyst
WORKS: O quam mirabilis
PERFORMER: Monk: Quarry Weave 1 & 2, etc; Musica Sacra/Richard Westenburg
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 68329 2 DDD
Meredith Monk’s surname has inspired her to team up with the 12th-century Hildegard of Bingen for a spiritual chill-out. First up is the mystical Hildegard, but the only revelation on offer is that ‘O Ecclesia’, though nicely performed here by Musica Sacra, is presented with more understanding and inflection by Gothic Voices on Hyperion. Also, the atmospheric opening to the disc, a version of ‘O quam mirabilis’, cannot quite compete with the electronic wizardry applied to this work by Richard Souther on the Angel label. But two of the Hildegard pieces here – ‘O clarissima’ and ‘O tu illustrata’ – are recorded for the first time.
Monk’s music, to be appreciated, requires a certain state of mind from its audience. Quarry Weave 1 and Quarry Lullaby wander about in something of a trance, though the multi-layered repetitions of Quarry Weave 2 do gradually amount to something. These compositions began life as stage works and rather lose their point in this fragmentary compilation. But this is not so with Astronaut Anthem, which amuses us with its simulated blast-off, achieved with the help of ascending whoops from the singers. Anthony Pryer