Sacred music from the Middle Ages stripped back to its bare bones. In recent times we have heard many groups exploring this period of music, each adding their own refinement and polish to create a commercially viable modern product. It has served its purpose in reviving the music of such composers as Hildegard von Bingen who have languished in obscurity. With Stephanie and Christoph Haas we have a voice and bowed psalterium duo performing works mainly from ‘anonymous’ composers. I am always highly suspicious when I read such claims that ‘the antiphons are performed here for the first time since 1525’, but let us accept that the whole disc offers something very unique in its simple and unadorned historic purity. Only one is from a known period composer—Hildegarde’s O viriditas digiti Dei—but it is believed that the works date from Western Europe in the 6th to the 14th century. Haas sings with a voice that has a modest vibrato and does not go into the upper stratospheres beloved by today’s ‘period’ groups. In that I can totally relate to Haas, the backdrop coming from a stringed instrument whose ancestors would have originated in Asia and forms a ‘drone’ of little dynamic variant. Uncomplicated engineering with the voice placed well forward.
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