Monday, October 13, 2008

In Mulieribus Does it Again

The new recording by In Mulieribus, a Portland-based, all-women vocal ensemble that specializes in early music, just arrived, and once again I can't take it off the CD player. Here it is.

The recording was made from live performances from 2004-2008. I often cringe when I see something described as live because it often means background noise and horrid clapping but there is none of that here - which I point out if that would deter you in the same way it might me.

Like their previous CD, they manage to unite scholarship, performance excellence, and accessibility. So you learn from their musical discoveries (there are many on this CD), you are astounded at the mastery and balance, and it is immediately affecting even for someone who has not somehow cultivated a specialist's taste in early music. Even more a listener who knows none of this music, their performances make the genre very convincing.

The CD explores a greater range of repertoire, including Renaissance polyphony (Victoria, Palestrina, Morley, Morales), which is precisely the music I was aching to hear them sing after listening to their first CD. I'm not sure that there is anything else like this on the market: women's voices taking on this music with vigor and excellence.

There are revelations here too, such as the Anon. "Portum in ultimo" (which could be ancient or modern or anything in between), Machaut's "Quand j'ay l'espart," and the deeply emotional Adieu m'amour, adieu ma joye" by G. Dufay. There is a Christmas theme at work also with "O Magnum mysterium," Durufle's "Tota plulchra es," and a wonderful version of the traditional carol "Es ist ein' Ros' entsprungen."

There is not a note out of place. It is inspiring CD too, not only for women who aspire to sing this music, in either a liturgical or performance context, but for anyone interested to see how this early music can speak to us so magnificently in our time. An excellent job. I'm not entirely sure how the marketing end of singing groups works but it strikes me that there is a great future for these singers.

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