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Soir, dit-elle

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Album Review

On their second album, this Swedish-Norwegian trio once more moves forward and back across the time's expanse with an ease that is startling to the listener. On Soir, Dit-Elle, Trio Mediæval create a space for disappearance, transformation, and emergence in performing a mass by 15th century composer Leonel Power before coursing through the works of 20th century masters such as Ivan Moody, Gavin Bryars, Andrew Smith, and Ukrainian composer Oleh Harkavyy. Soir, Dit-Elle, is a mirror image of the trio's debut album, Words of the Angel. While the former recording engaged anonymous laudes from as early as the 12th century and combined them with a mass written by Ivan Moody, here, it is Harkavyy 's "Kyrie," which bleeds into Powell's "Gloria," and opens onto the field of history itself. Powell is the only early-music contributor here, though his work is woven throughout the new pieces as a touchstone, a place in the mystical nature of sacred music through polyphony and chant and informs th rough the vioes of the trio, newer works it is interspersed with: Gavin Bryars uses original Marian texts for his Laudes and "Ave Regina" —before reverting back to Powell for his "Credo." In the sequential pieces Bryars again, then Andrew Smith, Powell, and Moody begin to shapeshift into one another, referencing and paying homage the history of religious music with the trio as their interlocutors. Here monophony and Caelian chant give way to polyphony in the works of Smith and Bryars. Individual timbres become a seamless single chorus as the singers chart the sketchy texts of Powell's score and encounter the Marian songs where petitions to the Mother of God for redemption from hatred, doubt, and salvation from war, as well as meditation upon the nature of the crucifixion, makes for a ground that emanates from the very heart of prayer. The pieces of Moody, Smith, and Harkavyy were all composed for the Trio Mediæval; their works were guided and inspired by original texts. Indeed, under John Potter's direction, these works break down not only time, but the distance usually associated with sacred music recorded in our time. There are no fissures, no determinable spaces or blurs. Everything is in continuum, in cycle, and the elemental mechanics of performance are left out of any visible field, leaving only the music itself — full of timbral mystery and astonishing harmonic control — directly in the listener's path of encounter. Soir, Dit-Elle, is, if possible, even stronger than Words of the Angel. While inverting the content and looking through another present era into the past, Trio Mediaeval has not bridged a gap, but created a wondrous whole, inseparable, awe-inspiring, and most definitely memorable.

Biography

Formed: 1997 in Oslo, Norway

Genre: Classical

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

The Trio Mediaeval's uncommonly clear and focused presence is anchored by the combination of three perfectly aligned voices that form what could be described as an ethereal tonal prism. Equally adept at interpreting music both ancient and modern, this celebrated threesome was founded in Oslo in 1997 by Linn Andrea Fuglseth of Sandefjord, Norway, with Anna Maria Friman of Goteborg, Sweden and schoolteacher Torunn Ostrem Ossum of Namsos, Norway who sang with Fuglseth in the choir Grex Vocalis under...
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