438

Trio Mediaeval: Folk Songs

Budd Kopman By

Sign in to view read count
Trio Mediaeval: Folk Songs ECM has always stretched the boundaries of jazz, and with its New Series champions much adventurous classical music, most newly composed. Trio Mediaeval's latest release, Folk Songs, an ethereal and haunting collection of Norwegian folk music, fits comfortably in neither.

The Trio's three previous albums for ECM, Words of the Angel (2001), Soir, dit-elle (2004) and Stella Maris (2005), consisted of medieval polyphonic music surrounding contemporary compositions done a cappella, and they received much acclaim, reaching the top of the Billboard and Amazon classical charts.

If you are familiar with the sound of, say, the Anonymous 4, (a phenomenon unto themselves with a discography totaling twenty discs), then you are in the right ballpark—crystalline voices that blend seamlessly. The difference here is that on this release Anna Maria Friman, Linn Andrea Fuglseth and Torunn Østrem Ossum perform the third strand of their repertoire, Norwegian medieval ballads and songs.

The group is ten years old now and got its early training from the Hilliard Ensemble, who have an extensive discography on ECM and who introduced the trio to Manfred Eicher of ECM. Folk Songs is their first release in which Eicher was actively involved as producer; John Potter of the Hilliard Ensemble supervised the recording of the earlier releases.

The liner notes speak about the group's influences, especially the all-female vocal trio Tiriltunga, and Tone Krohn, who is active in collecting folk tunes from southern Norway and who has arranged many of the folk songs in the group's repertoire. However, on this release, Fuglseth arranges fully half of the tunes.

The performances have a verve and élan that creates a synergy with the pure beauty of the trio's voices, making this remote music sound personal. The addition of percussionist Birger Mistereggen, who plays jew's harp, rope-tensioned drums and additional instruments including something organ-like that is pitched ("Solbønn" and "Lova Line"), adds a further rhythmic drive, with the drumming creating a dramatic air on "Rolandskvadet.

None of the twenty tracks exceeds five minutes, allowing for many varied emotions and sounds, including one solo piece for each of the performers, allowing the subtle differences of each woman's voice to be discerned.

The texts (translations are included) are important in that their subjects and even the syllables mesh with the tune and the arrangement to create the whole. The singular sound of unaccompanied voices is given many variations by the vocal arrangements, which range from unisons, open fifths, seconds, voice crossings, high melody with low accompaniment and vice versa.

On the other hand, the music exists apart from language, and the many emotions presented are quite apparent. Their range is expansive and the experience is one of bathing in the pure silver and gold flowing out of the speakers. Playing Folk Songs is like breathing fresh air while viewing a crystal clear sunrise or sunset.


Track Listing: Det lisle b�net; So ro, godt barn; Villeman og Magnhild; Tjovane; Nu solen g�r ned; I mine k�te ungdomsdagar; Gjendines b�dnl�t; Bruremarsj fr� Gudbrandsdalen; Rolandskvadet; Solb�nn; Eg veit I himmerik ei borg; Nu vilar hela jorden; Springdans fra Vestfold; Eg aktar inkje; Den elskete Jerusalem; Till, till tove; Lova Line; Danse, ikke gr�ta n�; Den signede dag; Folkefrelsar, til oss kom.

Personnel: Anna Maria Friman: voice; Linn Andrea Fuglseth: voice; Tornn Østrem Ossum: voice; with Birger Mistereggen: jew's harp, percussion.

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: ECM Records | Style: Vocal


Shop

More Articles

Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Live at PafA CD/LP/Track Review Live at PafA
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Ocean of Storms CD/LP/Track Review Ocean of Storms
by Troy Dostert
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Transparent Water CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Billows Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review Billows Of Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 20, 2017
Read "Back To Your Heart" CD/LP/Track Review Back To Your Heart
by Jeff Winbush
Published: January 13, 2017
Read "Journey To The Heart" CD/LP/Track Review Journey To The Heart
by Jeff Winbush
Published: August 12, 2016
Read "Hasta Karma" CD/LP/Track Review Hasta Karma
by Tyran Grillo
Published: April 29, 2016
Read "Taking Flight" CD/LP/Track Review Taking Flight
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 16, 2016
Read "Heavy Weather" CD/LP/Track Review Heavy Weather
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: February 15, 2017
Read "Live in Sant’Anna Arresi, 2004" CD/LP/Track Review Live in Sant’Anna Arresi, 2004
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 17, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!