Music of Hildegard von Bingen
Vajra Voices, dir. Karen R. Clark, Shira Kammen vielle & medieval harp
Music & Arts CD-1291
It is hard to remember a time without Hildegard, but (of course) the rediscovery of her remarkable music after centuries of silence was a relatively recent affair. Many of us remember the effect of first hearing recordings by Gothic Voices and Sequentia of this extraordinary repertoire, and it remains just as distinctive today. Of course, it goes without saying that you need singers capable of doing it justice, but in the American ensemble Vajra Voices we have a group who have specialized in Medieval and modern music and in Hildegard’s music in particular. Under the expert direction of Karen R. Clark, they bring an engaging drama to Hildegard’s music, soaring and swooping with ease and evident delight. They are ably supported by Shira Kammen on vielle and medieval harp, who also takes a couple of solo and duet instrumental slots with Allison Zelles Lloyd. It is nice to note that they are playing a Kentigern harp by the Highlands’ own Ardival Harps. When reviewing, I tend to put on CDs at random to get to know them thoroughly before passing judgment – it is interesting that, of all my current batch, the Hildegard one has been the one I was able to identify instantly.
D. James Ross