HILDEGARD von BINGEN. Gestliche Gesänge / Sequentia
Symphonia harmoniae caelestium revelationum

grabación: 1982-1983

1983 · Harmonia Mundi (BASF) 74321 20 198-2 [LP]
1985 · Deutsche Harmonia Mundi (EMI) 1C 067 199 976 1 [LP]
1987 · Deutsche Harmonia Mundi (EMI) CDC 7 49251 2 [CD]
1989 · Deutsche Harmonia Mundi (BMG) "Editio Classica" 77020-2-RG [CD]
2004 · Deutsche Harmonia Mundi (BMG) "Splendeurs" 82876 60152 2 [CD]

[Seite 1]

1. O quam mirabilis   [2:41]
antiphona · JF

2. O pulchrae facies   [3:55]
antiphona [De Virginibus] · Vokalensemble, 2 Fideln, Harfe

3. O virga ac diadema   [4:50]
sequentia [De Sancta Maria] · BTh, CS, Vokalsensemble

4. Instrumentalstück  I   [1:53]
2 Fideln, Flöte, Harfe

5. O clarissima mater   [8:07]
responsorium [De Sancta Maria] · SS, JF, ThL, CT, Flöte

6. Instrumentalstück  II   [5:00]
2 Fideln, Flöte, Harfe

7. Spiritui sancto honor sit   [4:56]
responsorium. [De Undecimum Milibus Virginibus] · LM, Vokalensemble, Fidel, Psalterium, Harfe

8. O virtus sapientiae   [2:53]
antiphona · Vokalensemble, Organistrum

[Seite 2]

9. O lucidissima Apostolorum turba   [6:41]
responsorium [De Apostolis] · GL, Vokalensemble, 2 Fideln, Harfe, Flöte

10. Instrumentalstück  III   [2:58]
Flöte, Harfe

11. O successores fortissimi leonis   [2:10]
antiphona [De Confessoribus] · Vokalensemble, Fidel

12. O vos felices radices   [5:07]
responsorium [De Patriarchis et Prophetis] · BTh, Vokalensemble, Symphonia

13. Instrumentalstück  IV   [5:19]
2 Fideln, Flöte, Harfe

14. Vos flores rosarum   [5:46]
responsorium [De Martyribus] · Vokalensemble

Ensemble für Musik des Mittelalters

BTh Barbara Thornton, Gesang, Leitung des Vokalensembles
Margriet Tindemans, Fidel, Psalterium, Leitung des Instrumentalensembles
Benjamin Bagby, Harfe, Organistrum, Symphonia



JF Jill Feldman
GL Guillemette Laurens
ThL Theresa Lister
LM Lauri Monahan
Margaret Reines
SS Sally Sanford
CS Candace Smith
CT Caroline Trevor

Fidel: Sally Cunningham (#4, 6, 10, 13 - #7)
Flöte: David Hart (#4, 6, 10, 13), Liane Ehlich (#9)

Bearbeitung der Instrumentalmusik von Margriet Tindemans und Benjamin Bagby

16. —19.VI. 1982, Klosterkirche Knechtsteden
17.— 20.VI. 1983, Mandelsloh, St. Osdag
Thomas Gallia (#4-6, 10, 13) · Barbara Valentin
Produzent: Klaus L Neumann
Schnitt: Paul Dery · Barbara Valentin
Technik: Sonart, Milano (#4-6, 10, 13) · WDR: Hermann Kaldenhoff

Wiesbaden, Hessisches Landesbibliothek, Hs. 2 („Rupertsberger Riesenkodex") fol. 466-473
Dendermonde (Belgien/Belgium), Klosterbibliothek Cod. 9 („Villarenser Kodex"), fol. 156-167


Hildegard (born in 1098) began to compose liturgical poetry and music in the 1140s, at the time when she first felt the courage to write down her visions. Already in 1148 a Parisian magister, Odo, commended the originality of her songs; in the 1150s she gathered them into a lyrical cycle, that she called her 'Symphony of the harmony of heavenly revelations' (Symphonia harmoniae caelestium revelationum). This, in its first version, contained some sixty antiphons, responsories, sequences and hymns, suited to many feasts of the liturgical year. In the twelfth century only Peter Abelard, in the 1130s, attempted a cycle of liturgical composition on so large a scale. Close study of the two manuscripts in which her cycle is preserved enables us to distinguish also a later, enlarged version of the Symphonia, where Hildegard had added some outstanding songs, including two of those performed here: the two antiphons with more philosophical themes — on divine foreknowledge (I) and divine Wisdom (VIII) — probably belong to the time of Hildegard's last major work, her cosmology Liber divinorum operum (1163-73). Lyrical invention, that is, retained a distinctive, though gradually less prominent, place in Hildegard's astonishingly varied and prolific writing. Symphonia is a key concept in Hildegard's thought, and one that she discusses in early as well as late works. It designates not only a harmony of diverse notes produced by human voices and instruments, but also the celestial harmony, and the harmony within a human being. The human soul, according to Hildegard, is 'symphonic' (symphonialis), and it is this characteristic that expresses itself both in the inner accord of soul and body and in human music-making. Music is at the same time earthly and heavenly — produced by earthly means, but able to evoke for mankind, at least briefly and partially, the heavenly consonance ('Stimmung') that they possessed fully in Paradise before the Fall. In the words of Hildegard's younger contemporary, the poet-theologian Alan of Lille, a symphonia implies an exultation of the mind, to which the vocal celebration and the instrumental execution correspond. Thus, with the consonance of mind and voice and instruments, the symphonia becomes a 'good work' in an existential as well as an artistic sense.

Hildegard's poetic language is among the most unusual in medieval European lyric. She shows herself aware of the imagery of mystical love in the Song of Songs, as well as of certain traditional figural relationships elaborated by the Church Fathers. Thus for instance both Ecclesia and a virgin martyr can be portrayed as the bride of the divine Lamb; Mary is seen as the healer of Eve's guilt, or as the flowering branch of the tree of Jesse, or as the dawn in which Christ the Sun rises. But in developing such images and expressions Hildegard delights in poetic freedom, and in taking diverse kinds of language to new limits. I would signal especially her daring mixed metaphors, her insistent use of anaphorai, superlatives and exclamations, her intricate constructions in which several participles or genitives depend on one another. In one of her most compressed songs (XII), the patriarchs and prophets are the roots of a fruitful plantation whose summit, which they foreshadow, is Christ, but Christ is at the same time a whetstone, that is heralded by a fiery voice (John the Baptist), and that demolishes an abyss (in the harrowing of hell). Hildegard's is a lyrical language that sparkles with intellectual innovation while remaining rhapsodic in its impulses. In the English translation I have tried to reflect as far as possible the superbly obstinate individuality of her diction. Her poetic effects are often strange or violent, and never (as in the hymnody of most of her contemporaries) smooth.

Peter Dronke

As abbess of Rupertsberg, Hildegard's authority and creative output increased significantly. Between 1151-1158 Hildegard was writing and collecting her musical compositions (as mentioned in her second vision cycle, Liber Vitae Meritorum). They were intended for liturgical use at the convent, and called symphoniae harmoniae celestium revelationum, a title meant to indicate their divine inspiration as well as the idea that music is the highest form of praise in Creation, carrying as it does echoes of the sounds of the heavenly spheres. We have two extant manuscripts of symphoniae, yielding text and notated music for seventy-seven songs (as well as the mystery play, Ordo Virtutum). (These are the Villarenser Codex in Dendermonde, Belgium, and the Riesenkodex, Wiesbaden.) The songs are generally praise songs to personages from the Christian pantheon of saints, apostles, martyrs, virtues, deities, etc. Not surprisingly, feminine figures are predominately worshipped — 15 of the songs are addressed to the Virgin Mary, and 13 to Saint Ursula.


1th SIDE

The first side of the recording reflects Hildegard's profoundly feminine religious soul by presenting the texts and music she created to praise those female divinities of her allegorical world — the Virgin Maria, the virgins who inhabit heavenly realms at the end of time, the St. Ursula, and the virtue of Wisdom, traditionally considered a type of feminine Deity.

O quam mirabilis (Antiphona)
Here is Hildegard's immensely loving depiction of life's central miracle: creation. God breathed his breath into his creature and gazed eternally into its face with ineffable love and knowledge.

De virginibus (Antiphona)
Hildegard sees virgins as pure beings belonging to God. Their faces, turned eternally towards Him, reflect his luminosity.

De sancta Maria (Sequentia)
This sequence show Hildegard's unconventional use of forms, for it scarcely resembles the classical sequence of the period. There is no poetic meter, and the logic of the verses depends entirely upon the enlargement of her symbolic images. It demonstrates the great importance she attributed to the miracle of virgin birth — as Maria had been chosen as the vessel for the birth of the Deity, she redeemed her sex from the sin of Eva, and served as the universal symbol of spiritual receptiveness.

Instrumental piece
Instrumental music is another means, in Hildegard's view, of praising the Creator, "So should we, acknowledging God in the faith, praise Him eternally in song, and in joyful sound without end. 'Praise him with the sound of the harp', of profound submission, 'and in the sound of the zither', that honey-flowing song. 'Praise him with string-playing', the salvation of humankind, and 'with the sound of the flute', of divine protection".
Scivias III, 13

O clarissima mater
This is a piece which, in text and music, evokes an image of Maria as all that is mild, soothing and exquisite. Unlike Christ's war-like triumph over Death, hers has been a soft one of healing. The flute accompaniment emphasizes the smoothness and brilliance of this vision of the Virgin.

De undecim milibus uirginibus (Responsorium)
This composition praises the passion of St. Ursula and the legendary 11,000 virgins who "gathered around her like doves", and chose to martyr themselves as she did.

O virtus sapientiae (Antiphona)
A short antiphon for the virtue of Sapientia or Wisdom, who is extensively praised in the Book of Proverbs. It creates a sense of the wonderful circular motion of the singing of seraphim, mixing images of celestial omnipresence and feminine fecundity.

2nd SIDE

The second part of the recording is dedicated to laudatory pieces which Hildegard received in the last revelation of the Scivias cycle. In the penultimate vision, she has witnessed the end of Time and of the World, and the falling away of all that was mortal. The triumphant final vision consists of nothing more than the joyful sounds of eternal praise. The heavenly voice says to her, "As if with one soul and one heart these songs, (heard in the vision), praise the glory of those who are in Heaven. Their melodies carry into the heavens that which the word makes manifest. Thus, O mankind, you must heed this song sung in most perfect accord of the mystical words of the prophets (De patriarchis et prophetis), the song of (Christ's) widely proclaimed and miraculous teaching, (De apostolis), the song of the spilling of blood of those who faithfully sacrificed themselves, (De martyribus), and the song of priestly mysteries (De confessoribus)."
Scivias III, 13.

Barbara Thornton