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Music Review: Trio Mediaeval – A Worcester Ladymass

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Trio Mediaeval are three remarkable vocalists hailing from Oslo, Norway. The women’s names are Anna Maria Friman, Linn Andrea Fuglseth, and Torunn Ostrem Ossum. Giving credit to each individual voice is important, but the sum of this trio adds up to so much more than the singular elements. Trio Mediaeval’s most recent recording for the ECM New Series is titled A Worcester Ladymass. It is filled with some of the most beautiful music one will hear this side of Heaven.

The music Trio Mediaeval sing comes from recently discovered texts – which originated over 800 years ago. There is no way anyone living can know just what the particular inflections sounded like so many years ago. Add to that the unfortunate fact that there are original segments of these texts that have just been lost to the ages, and the potential for charlatanism is ripe.

Thankfully, the reconstruction of A Worcester Ladymass was done with the help of Manfred Eicher, who insisted on getting as close to the original intents as possible. Trio Mediaeval proceeded by interpreting the surviving chants in their own (beautiful) manner. To indulge just for a moment, I think that if the ancestors of the Trio Mediaeval were to hear this version of A Worcester Ladymass all these years later, they would be very proud.

One of the most daunting tasks of this recording was the unfortunate fact that some of the original texts have been lost. This is where composer Gavin Bryars was able to step in. He was commissioned to write the Credo and Benedicamus Domino to complete the cycle.

Listening to the soaring tri-part harmonies of Trio Mediaeval is much more than giving praise to the Almighty. There is an assertion of the joy of just being alive that makes this one of the most intoxicating recordings I have heard in some time

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About Greg Barbrick