V0205. ANONYMOUS 4: Laudes de Sainte Ursule (Hildegard von Bingen). (Germany) Harmonia Mundi 901626. Ever-so-slightly used copy appears as new. - 794881373321
"It is curious that 1997 produced two Hildegard von Bingen recordings at Harmonia Mundi let alone that both focused on St. Ursula! But, you probably couldn't have imagined two more contrasted but completely valid efforts. (Anonymous 4 was the other and their installment is very characteristic of them: highly feminine, luminous, surficially gorgeous and incomparably so). Marcel Peres plainly cites in the liner notes that a more authentic presentation was in order after years of perhaps trendy new age romanticizing of the deeply talented abess's work of 900 years ago. His presentation sounds like you are among actual initiates of her order, as opposed to modern voice professionals fancifully recreating it from the outside. This is made possible by deeper female timbres that are employed, a darkly echoic soundstage provided by Sylvanes Abbey, an overall favoring of von Bingen's biblical psalm settings, and the long linear drones by which they deliver many of them. Without much ornamentation at all, the natural polyphonic quality of the human voice becomes hypnotically obvious. This recording feels like serious practitioners trying to serve as von Bingen and her fellow sisters did day in and day out. Given that the Organum Ensemble is also a professional group like other interpreters, this is an especially convincing feat that palpably conveys what it is like behind cloister walls in isolation from a worldly world. In short, the joy is more penitential and comes through in the labor of the singing, not so much in the timbral light that results, even though Peres' handpicked six women vocalists are yet the perfect picture of pitch stability and synchrony. Features very brief inclusion of two male voices at the beginning and end of the 'ceremony'. Timeless and real in every sense of the words."
- Yves Latorte
“At first glance, one might wonder why Harmonia Mundi has brought out simultaneous releases focusing on the Office of St. Ursula: Anonymous 4's 11,000 Virgins and this disc. But in fact the recordings have little duplication, since Marcel Pérès devotes his program solely to the Lauds for St. Ursula's feast day. In contrast to Anonymous 4's exquisite ensemble and purity of sound, Pérès prefers an earthier, more elemental sound, achieved by having women's voices sing in chest tones. Long unison lines are spun out in a measured, decorated style that is quite gripping on its own terms, but which might prove grating after some time during the CD's 79-minute course. Pérès, as usual, provides cogent, provocative annotations, and the recording's spooky resonance proves as haunting as the performances. Not for all Hildegardians, perhaps, but fascinating stuff.”
- Jed Distler