Friday, 16 November 2007

2. Hildegard of Bingen - Antiphons (12th Century)


Title: Canticles Of Ecstasy
Performer: Sequentia
Director: Benjamin Bagby
Year: 1993
Length of Reviewed Portion: 22 minutes


Well this was a much shorter piece to listen to, of course not all the Antiphons that have come down from Hildegard are present here, but there is a nice sample which gives you an idea of what they sound like. And they sound quite lovely.

The music has a very ethereal feel to it, some would say mystic... but I'm an atheist. There is however something special about them, a certain peaceful feeling, and not only in the voices but in the sparse use of instruments as well.

This is very emotive music, clearly inspired by Hildegard's visions, and again like in the last album it is as important because of the music itself as because of who wrote it, Hildegard herself is a very impressive character, look her up on Wikipedia and she is the kind of woman that you wouldn't presume was around in the "Dark Ages"... maybe they weren't so dark, and this music isn't dark as well. It is definitely nowhere as fascinating as the Carmina Burana, and it is not something I will go out of my way to listen to actively again, but it is a lovely piece of music. And the performance is flawless, with just the required echo to remind you of the music's setting.

Track Highlights

1. Antiphon: Cum Pocessit factura Digit Dei
2. Aleluia - Antiphon: O Virga Mediatrix
3. Antiphon: O Choruscans Stellarum
4. Marian Antiphon (10th Century): Alma Redemptoris Mater

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

In addition to music, Hildegard also wrote medical, botanical, and geological treatises. She also invented an alternative alphabet. The text of her writing and compositions reveals Hildegard's use of this form of modified medieval Latin, encompassing many invented, conflated, and abridged words. Due to her inventions of words for her lyrics and a constructed script, many conlangers look upon her as a medieval precursor.

Accounts of Hildegard's visions were compiled into three books. The first, Scivias ("Know the Way") was completed in 1151. Liber vitae meritorum ("Book of Life's Merits"), and De operatione Dei ("Of God's Activities") also known as Liber divinorum operum ("Book of Divine Works") followed. In these volumes, works in progress until her death in 1179, she first describes each vision, then interprets them. The narrative of her visions was richly decorated under her direction, with transcription assistance was provided by the monk Volmar and nun Richardis. The book was celebrated in the Middle Ages and was later copied in Paris in 1513.

Hildegard's visionary writings maintain that virginity is the highest level of the spiritual life, however, she also wrote about the secular life, including motherhood. She is the first woman to record a treatise of feminine sexuality, providing scientific accounts of the female orgasm.

When a woman is making love with a man, a sense of heat in her brain, which brings with it sensual delight, communicates the taste of that delight during the act and summons forth the emission of the man's seed. And when the seed has fallen into its place, that vehement heat descending from her brain draws the seed to itself and holds it, and soon the woman's sexual organs contract, and all the parts that are ready to open up during the time of menstruation now close, in the same way as a strong man can hold something enclosed in his fist.

A video from a documentary on Hildegard with some of her music:

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