De Angelis
Hildegard von BINGEN (1198-1179) Nobilissima Viriditas
MESOMEDES of Crete (c.1300) Chionoblepharou Pater Aous
Syrian chant (4th century) Yawnu Tlitu
Mozarabic chant (6-7th century) Si Ascendero In Caelum
Obadiah ha GER (12th century) Mi Al Har Horeb
Sephardic Jewish from Spain (12th century) Yonati
Ambrosian chant (6th century) A Summo Caelo
Hildegard von BINGEN Spiritus Sanctus Vivificans Vita; O vos angeli; O Gloriosissimi Lux Vivens Angeli
Jacob van EYCK (c.1590-1657) Engels Nachtegaeltje
Swedish Choralbook (1697) Den Signade Dag
Italian (14th century) Lamento Di Tristano / La Rotta
Walther von der VOGELWEIDE (c.1170-1230) Unter Der Linden
Piae Cantiones (1582) Sum In Aliena Provincia
Improvisation and Finnish folk tune Varpuisen Veisu
Early Finnish Ballad Katriina
Ingrian folk song Etagalla
Karelian weeping song Kalmah-Heitanda Virsi
Anneliina Koskinen (soprano, diatonic C-flute, reed pipe, bells, Loriman pipe, tenor rebec, symphonia, Celtic harp, 5 stringed kantele)
rec. Kouvola, Finland, July 2008
ALBA ABCD 282 [61:06]

This truly beautiful disc of early music is based around religious sentiments, angels and birdsong. Drawing upon different cultures, countries and traditions, the well-chosen programme appears to highlight the meeting points of these different paths and to show how all, ultimately, express the same sentiments, and do so in strains that draw upon each other. The CD opens with, and quite heavily features, Hildegard von Bingen - always a good way to open a disc! The earliest work featured dates back to 130AD, and is a Hymn to the Sun, by Mesomedes of Crete. A haunting work, it is given an atmospheric rendition – soprano Anneliina Koskinen’s powerful but sensitive voice brings out the more numinous side of the work. Other songs featured include sixth century Ambrosian and Mozarabic chants, Sephardic Jewish music from Spain, Finnish ballads and a spell-binding Ingrian folk song. A Karelian weeping song concludes the disc – brilliantly sung with both great technical ability and invested with intense emotion.

The songs are occasionally interspersed with instrumental pieces for reed pipe, Loriman pipe, diatonic flute and rebec – again excellently played. Some of these instrumental episodes are fairly well-known, such as the Italian Lamento di Tristano / La Rotta and Eyck’s English nightingale, in which Koskinen includes birdsong intermingled with the solo flute line. This works well and manages to avoid sounding twee.

All is performed with consummate musicianship, understanding, knowledge and a clear love of the pieces. The disc is well presented and Koskinen’s notes – although rather brief – are nonetheless well-written and interesting.

Anneliina Koskinen is an incredibly versatile musician, playing, as she does, all the instruments featured here - which include the Celtic harp, symphonia and 5-stringed kantele as well as the instruments mentioned above. Her voice is both sweet and gentle of tone, yet strong and compelling at the same time, and she manages the more challenging works such as On This Holy Day from a 1697 Swedish Choral book impressively. She makes an extremely convincing case for these, many of them very rare, pieces.

This disc completely captivated me and is one that I rate very highly indeed.

Em Marshall