Mya Yrmana Fremosa - Medieval woman’s songs of love and pain
Motet: Endurez, endurez les dous mas d’amer [1:26]
By The Sea
Martín CODAX (fl.c.1230)
Cantigas de amigo [11:49]
Motet: Trois serors sor rive mer [1:33]
Sephardic Ballad: Tres hermanicas eran [5:28]
Mother-Daughter Dialogues
Motet: Endurez, endurez les dous mas d’amer [0:36]
Estampie: Endurez, endurez les dous mas d’amer [3:20]
Chanson de toile: Bele Yolanz [4:36]
Motet: Bele Aelis par matin se leva [1:11]
Niedhart von REUENTAL (c.1180-c.1237)
Blôzen wir den anger ligen sâhen [6:52]
La Malmariée
Motet: Endurez, endurez les dous mas d’amer [0:37]
Etienne de MEAUX (13th Century)
Chanson de malmariée: Trop est mes maris jalos [1:45]
Conductus: Procurans odium [1:04]
Motet: Endurez, endurez les dous mas d’amer [1:09]
Richart de FOURNIVAL (1201-1260)
Motet & Chanson de femme: Onques n’amai tant que jou fui aimee [6:22]
Ich was ein chint sô wolgetân [5:13]
Celestial Love
Motet: Endurez, endurez les dous mas d‘amer [1:50]
God de bat eyn zelelin [5:17]
Cantiga de Santa Maria: De vergonna nos guardar [5:31]
Ik draghe an mynes herten grunt [4:24]
Motet: Endurez, endurez les dous mas d‘amer [1:15]
Triphonia: Amanda Simmons, Gaby Bultmann and Leila Schoeneich (all voice and instruments)
rec. 5-7 March, 9 May 2009, St. Albertus Magnus Kirche, Berlin

Triphonia – Ensemble for Medieval Music Berlin, is a trio which in genuine period style, not only sing but also play all of the percussion, harps, recorders and stringed instruments which go with our current perceptions of how this music should sound, or may have sounded in medieval Europe. This programme brings us into the world of “woman’s songs”, which was a popular tradition at the time, covering subjects of love, family relationships and nature in accessible language. This is however not to say that the music was written by women, and with none of the attributed composers here being female, the fact is that almost all of the surviving examples if this genre are written by men in the female ‘voice’: from the feminine point of view, exploring worlds of expression while avoiding the more typical subjects of the male adoration of the lady in the artistic courtly tradition.

The programme here is divided nicely into themes and subjects. The general colour of sound is fairly similar throughout, but changes in the character of the music are made clearly, from the almost sea-shanty nature of the Sephardic Ballad Tres hermanicas eran, to the Chanson de toile later on – both types of song usually descriptive of typical handwork activities such as spinning or sewing, but with the former telling a more fairytale story of three sisters. The recorders also have a nice improvisatory section, imitating birdsong in Blôzen wir den anger ligen sâhen.

La Malmariée is a significant French genre which deals with the subject of unhappy marriage. As in the lively dance Trop est mes maris jalos, this is often within the framework of a young woman yearning for her young and handsome lover while trapped in an arranged marriage to a jealous older husband. The lament is of course an ancient and enduring subject for musical expression, and the mournful sliding lines of the motet Endurez, endurez les dous mas d’amer brig us straight into that minor key world of loss and grief.

The final part of the programme, ‘Celestial Love’, draws its material from devotional songs dedicated to religious expressions of love for Christ and God. Some of these have survived only in text, and appropriate melodies from the same period have been used to bring them to life. The celestial character of the music is emphasised by a delicate halo of sound from the harp and psalter or bells, and the gentle ecstasy of devotional expression is beautifully portrayed.

With detailed and informative booklet notes by Amanda Simmons and all of the song texts given in English and German translation from the originals, this CD comes with its chunky information housed next to the jewel case in a cardboard sleeve. The charming performances are recorded with superb transparency, and you can easily lose yourself in this verdant garden of expressive music from a long-lost age. The interest for me is not only in medieval ‘period’ repertoire presented here, but also in tracing influences which can be found today in the living folk music tradition, and in the music of composers like Arvo Pärt and John Tavener. There is also a sense in which the musics of this ‘early’ period has closer global affinity than one might expect, with influences from traditional music from the Mediterranean and beyond lending themes to northern European creativity, and the instrumental colours sometimes even suggesting a whiff of the exotic east. Triphonia create a magical atmosphere with this recording, and the whole thing is a delight from beginning to end.

Dominy Clements

Magical atmosphere from the long-lost but not so distant Middle-Ages.