Hildegard Von Bingen

Composer and Christian mystic Hildegard Von Bingen lived around the 12th Century (1098-1179), but her sublime music is as subtle, spacious and transcendent as any modern ambient.

artist:
Hildegard Von Bingen

country of origin:
Germany

style(s):
Sacred choral

essential releases:

  • A Feather On The Breath Of God (1988, Hyperion)
  • Canticles Of Ecstasy / Sequentia (1994, BMG)

Reviewed by Mike G

Composer and Christian mystic Hildegard Von Bingen lived around the 12th Century (1098-1179), but her sublime music is as subtle, spacious and transcendent as any modern ambient. At first hearing Von Bingen’s music recalls the early church’s Gregorian chants. But in fact some of her work marks the beginnings of a vital transition in Western choral music from a number of voices all singing one melody (Gregorian chant or plainsong) to singing that harmonises two or more different melody lines (polyphony).

Von Bingen albums are now numerous but sometimes carelessly compiled.  A Feather On The Breath Of God (1988) and Canticles Of Ecstasy / Sequentia (1994) are close to definitive and are really the only albums of her music that you need. The arrangements include drones from reeds and barrel organ, but they’re essentially background to the incredibly beautiful singing. One American record exec called this “medieval spacemusic”. Whatever you call Bingen's music, its deep spirituality puts the lightweight noodling of some new age musicians into stark relief.

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