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Loosely structured around the 14th-century Office of St Thorlak, patron saint of Iceland and more or less contemporaneous with his English counterpart St Godric, Aquilonis (named for the North Wind) is Trio Mediæval’s signature mix of the medieval and the contemporary, from the Icelandic to the Italian. The three female vocalists blend Norwegian folk tunes with English polyphonic carols with Italian laude and create a successful tapestry that is texturally as well as melodically compelling throughout; adding heterophonic lines to monophonic chants and also, on occasion, their own instrumental contributions on hardanger fiddle, portative organ and melody chimes.

The are some gems among the contemporary works, with Andrew Smith’s ‘Ave maris stella’ especially gorgeous. The group’s own composition features, too – in interludes such as the shining wordless ‘Klokkeljom’ – making for an immensely creatively fertile project. The group’s distinctive sound is as pure as ever. It has often been described as a ‘cool’ sound, which is certainly frequently the case, but the burnished warm glow of their rendition of the Norwegian hymn ‘Ingen vinner frem til den evige ro’ (‘Eternal rest is the reward of those who strive hard for it’) accompanied by a heterophonic drone texture on hardanger fiddle, gives to the lie to any suggestion of a monochromatic sound. Highly recommended.

Catherine Groom Read the full review on Agora Classica


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Early Music Today, 2015 - ©Rhinegold Publishing