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Viriditas - Sibil•la Ensemble

Viriditas - Sibil•la Ensemble

trptk  TTK0120

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Vocal


Works by Hildegard von Bingen, Moniot d'Arras et al

Sibil•la Ensemble


Sibil•la Ensemble is a medieval music ensemble that draws inspiration from the Sibyls, the female prophetesses who have captivated the human imagination from ancient pagan times to the medieval era and Renaissance. Sibyls were revered across cultures for their divine insights and prophecies. They were seen as conduits between the mortal realm and the divine, shaping the spiritual beliefs of civilizations throughout history. Viriditas serves as a musical manifestation of the profound spiritual and natural wisdom associated with the Sibyls.

The ancient concept of viriditas is originating from the profound wisdom of the German Benedictine abbess, writer, composer, philosopher, mystic, and polymath Hildegard von Bingen, Sibyl of the Rhine. Hildegard was known for her ability to commune with the divine and derive insights from nature. In Hildegard’s philosophy, “viriditas” symbolizes the vibrant, life-giving energy that permeates the natural world and the essence of greenness. This divine force, both physical and spiritual, is believed to be experienced in moments of ecstatic connection, where the boundaries between humanity and nature blur.

Chants and secular songs from the 12th and 13th century, summons us to experience the same sense of awe, reverence, and connection with the natural and spiritual world that the Sibyls embodied. Each piece is a tribute to the generative power of nature, celebrating its rhythms, cycles, and eternal harmony, and invites us to immerse ourselves in the profound beauty of the natural world· recognise, respect and rediscover the wisdom inherent in living in symbiotic balance with our planet. The album unfolds as a spiritual journey, guiding us through ancient forests, across blooming meadows, and trails between rocks, underneath the sun and stars.

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Review by Adrian Quanjer - April 14, 2024

Is this new TRPTK release a reminder that ‘time’ is a relative notion created by man for want of anything better? The music of Hildegard von Bingen and her contemporaries of ten-plus centuries ago, collected and played by the Sibil.la Ensemble, will for many be something like an ‘other world’ experience. Or perhaps more poetically: From the mist of time. However, related to human life on earth, we are dealing with a time difference of less than 0,003 per cent between Hildegard and Ligeti. And those who cherish Historically Informed Practice, are in this context talking about yesterday. What then, is our sense of time?

Since Bach, differences in musical practice and renewal-driven musical inspiration have leapt forward at such an amazing pace that ‘time’ in conjunction with technical innovation seems to be moving ever faster. Have we already, or will we soon arrive in the maelstrom of human activity spinning out of control?

These thoughts crossed my mind when ‘O virtus Sapientiae’ (O strength of Wisdom) from Hildegard von Bingen started to play, arising out of nothing, like coming from the mist of time. An arousing sensation captured my spirit, putting my conscience in a mode of timelessness. Listening to these musicians, shaping with their medieval instruments the mystical background for the magical voice of Kristia Michael, was an unworldly though most rewarding experience. Setting ‘time’ apart, it meant for me a sudden relief from today's environment of growing anxiety. ‘Praise be to you, as is your due, O Wisdom’.

In this meticulously composed programme, ancient mystery is never far away, like in the ‘Song of Klidonas’, a “pagan ritual of ancient Greece and Cyprus that was suppressed during the Christian era but remained as a custom in medieval times”, according to the liner notes. Similarly expressed in the Byzantine secular song of Cyprus ‘Parakalo tin Panayia’. As a regular visitor to Cyprus, I was in both ‘traditional’ songs instantly carried away by Kristia’s persuasive voice, suggesting that her native Cyprus has kept, far removed from the tourist hustle and bustle along the coastal areas, the original ingredients of the Eastern Mediterranean melting pot of cultures. At the same time a sad reminder that not only tourist attractions have changed the face of this island but also, how political implications have divided instead of united the two parts of this once mythical paradise.

The Six Sibyls of the Ensemble, have spread their prophetical wings wider than Germany and Cyprus by including other European countries like France and Spain in their medieval concept of ‘Veriditas’, Hildegard von Bingen’s natural path to deeper and spiritually connecting Wisdom. The two ‘Cantigas de Santa Maria’ fit so self evidently into the concept of the healing power of nature. Beautifully sculpted, and impressively executed. Ivan Gianakis’s percussion delivers the pulse on which it all develops.

And there is more, much more to bewitch the audience like for instance the May song ‘Ce fut en mai’ allowing Andrew Hopper to beguile the listener with his chant of joy and heavenly pleasure; the percussion and recorder improvisations, and the touching finishing touch by Hildegard’s ‘Karitas Habundat’, or, in poetical terms: “Charity abounds here toward all of us”.

This debut release is as unusual as it is intriguing. It has a ring of purity around it, taking you out of your daily routine whilst inspiring a kind of divine mystery beyond practising earthly religion. Carefully crafted and expertly recorded, including in wide surround, and for those who like it, also available in 4K Video Download, this debut recording has the ethereal power mankind needs in modern testing times.

I mustn't forget the informative liner notes. It is an intrinsic part of the experience! Do read them while listening.

Blangy-le-Château, Normandy, France.

Copyright © 2024 Adrian Quanjer and HRAudio.net

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