A Worcester Ladymass

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Worcester Fragments (ed. Losseff); Bryars: Credo; Benedicamus Domino
LABELS: ECM
WORKS: Worcester Fragments (ed. Losseff); Bryars: Credo; Benedicamus Domino
PERFORMER: Trio Mediaeval
CATALOGUE NO: ECM 476 4215

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Shortly before writing this review I attended the first of only two concerts that Trio Mediaeval had scheduled in the UK to launch this CD. In the benign shadows of a candle-lit Somerset church the three sopranos moved between the rows of crowded pews, working their magic as effectively as ever and exploiting the acoustics which they had had only a short time to familiarise themselves with. Hearing them in person was, of course, a special experience, but it’s a tribute to ECM’s justly-celebrated sound team that this recording has just as much presence.
 
As on earlier albums, they have sneaked in contemporary compositions which merge perfectly with the 13th-century music: this time it is two Gavin Bryars pieces from 2008, which employ Trio Mediaevel ’s voices with the same pellucid grace as the Worcester Fragments, the monastic manuscripts vandalised during Henry VIII’s reign. Trio Mediaeval has reconstructed this Mass from surviving plainchants for the Feast of the Assumption, interpolating, instead of readings that would have been included during a Mass, pieces with no fixed place in the Church calendar. The whole programme flows together beautifully and the Trio’s diction and tone perfectly combines celestial purity and perfection with human warmth and vulnerability. Barry Witherden