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Trio Mediaeval visit Old Hall

Trio Mediaeval at St Gerold

We were fortunate to get some amazing ensembles at the Hilliard Summer Schools, including several that would go on to international careers. One of the most successful is Trio Mediaeval, who celebrate their 25th anniversary this year. They had only been singing together for year when they came for their first electrifying visit to Cambridge in 1998. From the start they absorbed the Hilliard ethos – musically they were like younger female versions of our own ensemble, but unlike us four funeral directors they were bursting with charisma.

They asked me to produce their first album. I was flattered but said I knew nothing about record production from the other side of the microphone. But they could (and still can) be very persuasive, and I eventually agreed as long as they hired Peter Laenger as Tonmeister. Peter had assisted Manfred Eicher in almost all the Hilliard ECM albums and I knew they would be in safe hands; the worst that could happen would be that I sat and listened to some glorious music making for a few days.

Manfred actually discovered the Trio for himself, dropping into a Tritonus mixing session, and ECM released Words of the Angel in 2001.  They did three more albums with Peter and me and more with Manfred himself; I wrote some liner notes and even got to sing with them occasionally. They’ve never stood still, always challenged the mainstream early music aesthetic, and their impressive discography includes landmark collaborations with jazz and folk musicians.

Their last album, Solacium: Hymns & Lullabies (I wrote the note for that too) was for Morten Lindberg’s 2L.  It was a typically imaginative Trio project, managing to reach back into a timeless past with their own arrangements of Scandinavian folk hymns, contributions from saxophonist Trygve Seim and bassist Matts Eilertsen and new music by Andrew Smith, Anders Jormin and Sinikka Langeland. More recently they have been working on music from the Old Hall Manuscript, and as it meant re-visiting their medieval roots they asked me to ‘co-produce’ alongside Morten Lindberg; I put co-producer in quotes because obviously Morten did the heavy lifting and I… well, I sat and listened to some glorious music making for a few days.

Trio Mediaeval with Morten Lindberg

Needless to say, it’s not your usual Old Hall album: sung by women’s voices the music shimmers and floats in ways that surely would have surprised and delighted its monkish composers. I like to think they’d also appreciate the organetto interludes and tropes played by Catalina Vicens, possibly the most virtuosic player of the instrument since the 15th century.  As for David Lang and Marianne Eriksen, well you can catch Marianne’s Sol Lucem when the Trio do their Solacium programme at the Wigmore at lunchtime on July 4 (or watch the Wigmore livestream).

Trio Mediaeval with Catalina Vicens

We had a fantastic week!




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