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Hildegard von Bingen Revisited

In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and resultant confinement started me off on a project to record and revisit all 77 liturgical chants written by Hildegard Von Bingen. As the project grows, I am keeping a track of all the chants that I have sung and revisited on this page, together with the date the first version of each was posted.

You can also listen to my recordings on SoundCloud. (I have put the ‘pure’ chants together in one SoundCloud playlist, the revisited one are in another.)

And here are some extracts from my very first review, written by Stéphane Dado (directeur artistique adjoint at Les Nuits de Septembre, Festival de Wallonie, Belgium), following a live performance of six of my pieces (you can read the full review here):

Penelope Turner … s’est emparée des monodies envoûtantes d’Hildegard von Bingen afin de leur offrir un écrin polyphonique des plus somptueux … cette réalisation est une totale réussite.

Penelope Turner … has taken the bewitching monodies of Hildegard von Bingen and offered them a most sumptuous polyphonic setting … this achievement is a total success.

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 !

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

Chants

38. o rubor sanguinis (March 17, 2022)

the flower’s blood
antiphon to Saint Ursula

37. o orzchis ecclesia (January 15, 2022)

the shining jewel
votive antiphon in dedication to the Church

1. o pastor – herder of souls (originally recorded on March 18, 2020, revisited again on November 11, 2021)

herder of souls

36. cum erubuerint (August 17, 2021)

the wanderings of the fall
antiphon to the Virgin Mary

35. o quam mirabilis (August 1, 2021)

the wondrous breath
votive antiphon for the Creator

34. o jerusalem (April 23, 2021)

city of gold (part 2)
city of gold (part 1)
sequence for Saint Rupert

33. spiritus sanctus (March 24, 2021)

glorious life
antiphon for the Holy Spirit

32. mathias sanctus per electionem (February 24, 2021)

like a giant
hymn to Saint Matthias

31. o tu illustrata (February 7, 2021)

divine brightness
votive antiphon for the Virgin Mary

30. rex noster (January 20, 2021)

the clouds weep
responsory to the Innocents

29. o speculum columbe (January 1, 2021)

o wonderful flowering
antiphon to St John the Evangelist

28. o euchari columba (December 18, 2020)

the wheel
responsory to St Eucharius

27. alleluia o virga mediatrix (November 27, 2020)

body and voice
alleluia to the Virgin Mary

26. Office for the feast of Saint Ursula: 8 antiphons in matutinis laudibus (for lauds). Antiphon 8: sed diabolus (October 18, 2020)

St Ursula at lauds: Part 1 the kiss of peace; Part 2 the firmament sustains
St Ursula at lauds: no. 8 sed diabolus
antiphon in matutinis laudibus (St Ursula)

25. Office for the feast of Saint Ursula: 8 antiphons in matutinis laudibus (for lauds). Antiphon 7: deus enim rorum (October 18, 2020)

At Ursula at lauds: no. 7 deus enim rorum
antiphon in matutinis laudibus (St Ursula)

24. Office for the feast of Saint Ursula: 8 antiphons in matutinis laudibus (for lauds). Antiphon 6: et ideo puelle iste (October 18, 2020)

St Ursula at lauds: no. 6 et ideo puelle iste
antiphon in matutinis laudibus (St Ursula)

2. (rerecording) Office for the feast of Saint Ursula: 8 antiphons in matutinis laudibus (for lauds). Antiphon 5: aer enim volat (October 18, 2020)

St Ursula at lauds: no. 5 aer enim volat
antiphon in matutinis laudibus (St Ursula)

23. Office for the feast of Saint Ursula: 8 antiphons in matutinis laudibus (for lauds). Antiphon 4: deus enim in prima muliere (October 18, 2020)

St Ursula at lauds: no. 4 deus enim in prima muliere
antiphon in matutinis laudibus (St Ursula)

22. Office for the feast of Saint Ursula: 8 antiphons in matutinis laudibus (for lauds). Antiphon 3: de patris etiam earum (October 10, 2020)

St Ursula at lauds: no. 3 de patria etiam earum
antiphon in matutinis laudibus (St Ursula)

21. Office for the feast of Saint Ursula: 8 antiphons in matutinis laudibus (for lauds). Antiphon 2: unde quocumque (October 9, 2020)

St Ursula at lauds: no. 2 unde quocumque
antiphon in matutinis laudibus (St Ursula)

20. Office for the feast of Saint Ursula: 8 antiphons in matutinis laudibus (for lauds). Antiphon 1: studium divinitatis (October 9, 2020)

St Ursula at lauds: no. 1 studium divinitatis
antiphon in matutinis laudibus (St Ursula)

19. hodie aperuit (September 26, 2020)

the door opens
antiphon to the Virgin Mary

18. o virtus sapientie (September 13, 2020)

the three wings
antiphon to Divine Wisdom

17. ave maria (September 4, 2020)

relatively space
responsory to the Virgin Mary

16. o virga ac diadem (August 18, 2020)

the introverted sister of o ignis spiritus paracliti
sequence to the Virgin Mary

15. ave generosa (August 7, 2020)

version “hurdy gurdy”
hymn to the Virgin Mary

14. o beata infantia (July 14, 2020)

disibod’s canon
for six voices
antiphon to St Disibod

13. o viriditas digiti dei (July 6, 2020)

growth surrounds him
responsory to St Disibod

12. quia ergo femina (June 23, 2020)

because a woman
antiphon to the Virgin Mary

11. o bonifaci (June 17, 2020)

it runs and flows
antiphon to St Boniface

10. laus trinitati (June 9, 2020)

in the choral tradition
antiphon in praise of the Trinity

9. o ignis spiritus paracliti (June 1, 2020)

may the funky spirit be with you
sequence to the Holy Spirit

8. columba aspexit (May 23, 2020)

the dove looked in
sequence to St Maximin

7. o felix apparicio (May 16, 2020)

with cello harmonics
antiphon to St Rupert

6. o clarissima mater (May 8, 2020)

with cello groove
responsory to the Virgin Mary

5. o frondens virga (May 2, 2020)

seen in the mirror of fa
antiphon to the Virgin Mary

4. o viridissima virga (April 21, 2020)

hope springs eternal
hymn to the Virgin Mary

3. karitas habundat (April 8, 2020)

in loving memory of Rachel
neumes unite
antiphon to the Holy Spirit

2. aer enim volat (March 29, 2020)

needs and duties
antiphon in matutinis laudibus (St Ursula)

1. o pastor (March 18, 2020)

nuns gone rogue
antiphon to the Redeemer