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Monday, November 24, 2014

Trio Mediaeval, Aquilonus

Music has wings to take us to other eras, when done right. The Scandinavian threesome Trio Mediaeval do this hauntingly on their 6th ECM New Series album Aquilonus (B0022155-02). It is a wide-ranging collection of polyphonic vocal music from medieval to modern times, all of which share a plaintive sort of archaicism of mystery and remoteness, as the North Wind for which the album is named.

Anna Maria Friman, Linn Andrea Fuglseth, and Berit Opheim give us their lovely blend of voices plus discrete accompaniment at times from the hardanger fiddle, portable organ and melody chimes. The repertoire includes Icelandic medieval chant, 12th century Italian sacred music, and some fitting 15th-century English carols for Christmastide. The modern works blend in thoroughly because they are self-consciously backward looking, so that when we hear the works by Anders Jormin, William Brooks and Andrew Smith they flow smoothly into the program. A folkishness and a purity-in-simplicity comes through to set a mood in keeping with the season.

This is music devoid of the middle-ages potboilers one hears so often in typical anthologies. The vocals are truly haunting in a folk-early way, and the ECM acoustics heighten the experience and the semantic space between us and these aetherial sounds.

I find the music enchanting.

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