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Hildegard Revisited

Stéphane Dado, directeur artistique adjoint at Les Nuits de Septembre, Festival de Wallonie, Belgium (English translation below), December 19, 2021 (published on facebook):

“Une soirée hors du temps ce samedi [le 18 décembre, 2021] dans la belle église de Silly en compagnie des six chanteuses de La Noeva. Créé par Marie-Caroline Lefin, l’ensemble proposait un programme en deux parties : des Noëls, essentiellement anglais du XIIIe au XVIe siècle, d’un côté, période de l’Avent oblige, et surtout l’« Hildegard Project » de Penelope Turner, une des chanteuses du groupe, qui s’est emparée des monodies envoûtantes d’Hildegard von Bingen afin de leur offrir un écrin polyphonique des plus somptueux. Né durant le premier confinement comme un moyen de survie psychologique face au vide culturel qui a suivi le début de la pandémie, ce projet revisitera sur le long terme les 77 chants liturgiques écrits par la grande Hildegard au XIIe siècle.

Les six pièces proposées à Silly permettent déjà d’avancer que cette réalisation est une totale réussite. Avec un talent consommé, Penelope, qui maîtrise de l’intérieur toutes les inflexions de cette musique, superpose sur chaque mélodie originelle un tissu raffiné d’harmonies délicates qui respectent scrupuleusement le matériau médiéval, qui en renforcent la puissance émotionnelle et le caractère capiteux, au point peut-être de rendre cette esthétique mystique de plus de 750 ans plus accessible pour le grand public !

Si la compositrice d’aujourd’hui a l’humilité de s’effacer et de se fondre dans la musique de son illustre prédécesseur, elle n’en offre pas moins une création originale aux sonorités inscrites dans la modernité du XXIe siècle. Rien ne heurte jamais l’oreille, rien n’est stylistiquement contre-nature, chaque pièce jouit aussi d’un « habillage » personnalisé, il n’y a pas de systématisation procédurière dans ce travail d’écriture de sorte que l’eau du fleuve hildegardien est toujours la même mais n’est jamais la même, un véritable trait de génie au regard d’un répertoire aussi iconique et intouchable.”

A timeless evening this Saturday [December 18, 2021] in the beautiful church of Silly, in the company of the six singers of La Noeva. Created by Marie-Caroline Lefin, the ensemble performed a programme in two parts: suitably Christmassy pieces for Advent on the one hand (notably English works from the 13th to 16th centuries), and, above all, the “Hildegard Project” by one of the group’s singers, Penelope Turner, who has taken the bewitching monodies of Hildegard von Bingen and offered them a most sumptuous polyphonic setting. Born of the first Covid confinement, as a means of psychological survival in the face of the cultural void that followed the start of the pandemic, the long-term objective of this project is to revisit all 77 liturgical chants written by the great Hildegard in the 12th century.

The six pieces performed in Silly already show that this achievement is a total success. With consummate talent, Penelope, who thoroughly masters all the inflections of this music, superimposes onto each original melody a refined fabric of delicate harmonies, which scrupulously respect the medieval material and reinforce its emotional power and exuberant character, to the point perhaps of making this mystical aesthetic that is more than 750 years old more accessible to the general public!

While today’s composer has the humility to step aside and blend in with the music of her illustrious predecessor, she nonetheless offers an original creation with sounds embedded in the modernity of the 21st century. Nothing ever jars the ear, nothing is stylistically unnatural, the polyphonic flow runs naturally in a shimmer of seemingly simple yet elaborate harmonies. Each piece also benefits from a personalized “dressing” – there is no procedural systematization in these compositions such that the water of the Hildegardian river is always the same but is never the same – a real stroke of genius for such an iconic and untouchable repertoire.”

Marlene in Paris

Rheingau Echo, March 2015

Clipping Rheingau Echo 2015

Just Kurt

Eastern Daily Press, 8 July 2014

Clipping Eastern Daily Press 2014

Norfolk and Norwich Chamber Music Series Newsletter
9/7/2014

Review of Kurt Weill recital

On Sunday 6th July 2014, Penelope Turner (accompanied by Andrew Wise on the piano) gave a recital of songs by Kurt Weill from the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s at the Chapel, Park Lane. Christopher Smith gave this concert a very positive review in the Eastern Daily Press on 8th July, commenting that “Style was everything in this recital that was the picture of a period, and the audience responded with enthusiasm”.

Frankfurter Rundschau, 22. März, 2014

Clipping Frankfurter Rundschau 2014

Rheingau Echo, 27. März, 2014

Clipping Rheingau Echo 2014

At the Archiduc Café, September 2013

Rupert Carter, President, Cambridge Society of Belgium: “The atmosphere was quite electric on Sunday, what a marvellous concert! You are perfectly suited to Weill and his idiosyncratic combination of technical difficulty with opportunities for self-expression; Andrew held it all together wonderfully and your powerful voice worked to full effect in the crowded hall. Despite scouring iTunes and YouTube I haven’t found renditions that I like half as much. More please!”

Sarah Goldfarb, artistic director of ReMuA:  “what a show: a great voice in 1001 shades (velvet one minute and hard rock the next!), an amazing range, a full theatrical event, lovely music sung with taste and brilliant interpretations in 3 languages! Very very impressive!”

Ger GrootDutch writer and philosopher: “showy was het, heel meeslepend: prachtige muziek, prachtig gezongen (en geacteerd…). We zien alweer uit naar de volgende…”

Marc Michaël De Smet, conductor of Aquarius “It was great. Good length, good choice, superb contact with [the] public, the appropriate theatrical skills, a good ‘look’ and a great amount of self assurance.”