Norwegian Medieval

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Program: #18-09   Air Date: Feb 19, 2018

The “official pilgrimage choir” for Nidaros, the Schola Sancta Sunnivae, gives the service the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and Trio Mediaeval reconstructs ancient Norwegian folksong.

Once again, we turn back to a collaboration with the Royal Norwegian Embassy in the presentation of some recent remarkable works in the field of early music with Norwegian composers and performers.

Very special thanks to the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Washington, D.C. For more information on Norwegian cultural events, or for travel and tourist information, you may explore:

Or go to the Facebook page (@NorwegianEmbassyinWashington), or Twitter @NorwayUS

I. & III. Rimur (Trio Mediaeval & Arve Henriksen). ECM CD 2520.



Joined by trumpeter Arve Henriksen, Trio Mediaeval presents a unique program in which mediaeval and traditional music from Iceland and Norway and improvisation are integrated. Album highlights both Trio Mediæval's vocal creativity and the dramatically orchestral scope of Henriksen's array of trumpets and electronics. “A richly musical and imaginative encounter,” as described by The Guardian in a concert review. Recorded February 2016 at Munich’s Himmelfahrtskirche, produced by Manfred Eicher.

From Tom Huizenga, NPR--It's a curious thing how ancient music can sometimes sound so contemporary. Listen to "Morgunstjarna," and it's as if three centuries' worth of music history evaporates. The anonymous song from 17th-century Iceland sports a catchy, bittersweet melody and rhythmic hook that pop outfits like Peter Bjorn and John might be happy to whistle.

But "Morgunstjarna" is no pop song. It is, in fact, a hymn to Jesus, "my star of the morn." It's sung in the traditional Icelandic Tvísöngur ("twin singing") style, in which two vocal parts closely intermingle. As the song opens, one of those "twin" voices is actually the breathy, atmospheric trumpet of Arve Henriksen. He appears throughout the new album Rímur, by the vocal ensemble Trio Mediaeval. The result is music that seems old and new at once. (In that sense, it's not unlike a previous project on the ECM label, Officium, which paired Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek with the Hilliard Ensemble.).

Anna Maria Friman, in husky voice, offers a perfect patina over Henriksen's slightly jazzy trumpet. Her colleagues Linn Andrea Fuglseth and Berit Opheim join in after the first stanza, providing an ambling beat. After the second stanza, Fuglseth takes flight, soaring beautifully above the groove. For a few moments, we're caught up in a heavenly swirl of improvisation. There's a repeat of the opening lines and we gently touch back down to earth — a little lost in time, perhaps, but smiling.

  1.  St Birgitta Hymn - Rosa rorans bonitatem  04:23
  2. O Jesu dulcissime  05:05
  3.  Om ödet skulle skicka mig 01:19
  4. Morgunstjarna  03:07
  5. Ris upp, drottni dyro  01:06
  6. St Magnus Hymn - Nobilis humilis 04:24
  7. Láta gjalla létt og hátt 02:38
  8. Brureslatt 03:15
  9. St Sunniva Hymn - Eterna Christi munera 03:56
  10. Krummi 02:25 
  11. Anda pinn guo mer gef pu vist 03:29
  12. Sulla lulla 02:16
  13. Du är den första 04:06
  14. Alma Redemptoris Mater 02:40
  15. Bium bium bambalo 02:33
  16. Jag haver ingen karare 02:11
  17. Gammelkjerringvalsen 02:10

II. Fingergull: In festo susceptionis sanguinis Domini (Schola Sanctae Sunnivae/Anne Kleivset). 2L CD 114.



Blóð várs herra Jesv Christi kom til Niðar ós» (The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ came to Nidaros). With these words the Icelandic Annales regii for 1165 record the arrival of a drop of Christ's blood in Nidaros, today's Trondheim, in Norway. What had arrived was a precious relic, and, if the information given in the Icelandic annals about the arrival of a holy blood relic to Nidaros is correct, then it was in fact one of the first places to receive such a prominent relic. Today the Nidaros holy blood relic has disappeared, and many regard the medieval cult of relics as repellent, heathen and, indeed, utterly fanciful. However, if we choose to focus on the main idea lying behind the cult of the holy blood – namely the theme of the redemption of mankind flowing from a substance that descends from the divine – we might perhaps understand the cult's long-standing attraction. This attraction is still operative: who amongst us enlightened contemporaries has not been fascinated by books and films like The Da Vinci Code or Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, which are really just remakes of a tradition traceable through Richard Wagner's Lohengrin or Parsifal back to Chrétien de Troyes's 12th century grail stories and the medieval legends about Mary Magdalene? Schola Sanctae Sunnivae and conductor Anne Kleivset have worked on this material for many years, and they give here the first complete recording of the "Holy Blood office”.

1 - Ad primas vesperas, antiphona: Super precipuos
2 - Ad primas vesperas, antiphona: Ecce advenit dominator Deus
3 - Ad primas vesperas, antiphona: Salus aeterna nobis
4 - Ad primas vesperas, antiphona: Christus Deus noster
5 - Ad primas vesperas, antiphona: Exultemus in Domino
6 - Ad primas vesperas, responsorium: Jesu bone
7 - Ad primas vesperas, hymne: Salve lux mundi
8 - Ad primas vesperas, antiphona ad Magnificat: Ave pater gloriosae
9 - Ad matutinas, antiphona ad invitatorium: Filie Sion venite
10 - Ad matutinas, hymnus: Christe redemptor omnium
11 - In primo nocturno, antiphona: Auctor salutis omnium
12 - In primo nocturno, antiphona: Beata vere civitas
13 - In primo nocturno, antiphona: Clementissime Domine
14 - In primo nocturno, responsorium: Dignus es, Domine
15 - In primo nocturno, responsorium: O vere digna hostia
16 - In primo nocturno, responsorium: Domine Jesu Christe
17 - In secundo nocturno, antiphona: Domine rex omnipotens
18 - In secundo nocturno, antiphona: Gregem tuum Domine
19 - In secundo nocturno, antiphona: Da, benignissime Deus
20 - In secundo nocturno, responsorium: Verbum patris aeterni
21 - In secundo nocturno, responsorium: Primogenito patris
22 - In secundo nocturno, responsorium: Completis scriptis
23 - In tertio nocturno, antiphona: Gratia Dei per Jesum Christum
24 - In tertio nocturno, antiphona: Domine fons misericordiae
25 - In tertio nocturno, antiphona: Ave regum rex et Domine
26 - In tertio nocturno, responsorium: Sanguis tuus Domine
27 - In tertio nocturno, responsorium: Gratia dominica
28 - In tertio nocturno, responsorium: Summa laus
29 - Ad laudes, antiphona: Crux benedicta nitet, Dominus
30 - Ad laudes, antiphona: Salvator mundi, salva nos
31 - Ad laudes, antiphona: Orabat Christus in caelum
32 - Ad laudes, antiphona: Redemisti nos, Deus
33 - Ad laudes, antiphona: Ecce de quo Johannes dicit
34 - Ad laudes, hymnus: Magne Deus potentiae
35 - Ad laudes, Antiphona ad Benedictus: Laetentur omnes populi
36 - Ad secundas vesperas, antiphona ad Magnificat: Rex seculorum

CD Info

ECM CD 2520, 2L CD 114