Soir, dit-elle

Trio Mediaeval


The Trio Mediaeval made a powerful impact in 2001 with their debut album “Words of the Angel”, their highly distinctive "Scandinavian" vocal sound bringing something fresh to the performance of sacred music. “Soir, dit-elle”, with equal persuasiveness, reverses the ratio of old to new music… The uniqueness of their vocal blend has encouraged composers Gavin Bryars, Ivan Moody, Andrew Smith and Oleh Harkavyy to write new music for the three women singers. Contemporary works are here interwoven with the “Alma redemtoris” mass of Leonel Power, the great English composer and theorist who ranks alongside Dunstable as one of the defining forces of 15th century sacred music.

Featured Artists Recorded

April 2003, Propstei St. Gerold

Original Release Date


  • 1Kyrie (2002)
    (Traditional, Oleh Harkavyy)
  • Missa "Alma redemptoris mater"
    (Traditional, Leonel Power)
  • 2Gloria04:31
  • 3Laude novella (2002)
    (Traditional, Gavin Bryars)
  • 4Ave regina gloriosa (2003)
    (Traditional, Gavin Bryars)
  • Missa "Alma redemptoris mater"
    (Traditional, Leonel Power)
  • 5Credo06:25
  • 6Ave Maria (2000)
    (Traditional, Andrew Smith)
  • 7Regina caeli (2002)
    (Traditional, Andrew Smith)
  • 8Ave donna santissima
    (Traditional, Gavin Bryars)
  • Missa "Alma redemptoris mater"
    (Traditional, Leonel Power)
  • 9Sanctus04:59
  • 10The Troparion of Kassiani
    (Traditional, Ivan Moody)
  • 11Venite a laudare (2002)
    (Traditional, Gavin Bryars)
  • 12A lion's sleep (2002)
    (Traditional, Ivan Moody)
  • Missa "Alma redemptoris mater"
    (Traditional, Leonel Power)
  • 13Agnus Dei06:04
  • 14Alma redemptoris mater
Toccata, CD des Monats
Trio Mediaeval’s singers produce a seamless, shimmering sound and craft their vocal lines pristinely and expressively, with impeccable intonation. … Don’t miss this album.
John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune
Trio Mediaeval crisscrosses centuries with a tantalizing program that mixes the ancient … with the modern… One thread that binds all these disparate compositions together is a fascination with the power of human voices alone, and Trio Mediaeval presents a shining example of just how enthralling that sound can be.
Anastacia Tsioulcas, Billboard
The voices of three women, each one distinct and yet all three closely melded. Nothing else. White voices, dark silence all around them. … I think the group is breathtaking – arresting, vivid, calm but never peaceful, with every moment ready to bring a surprise.
Greg Sandow, The Wall Street Journal
What is especially remarkable about this disc (apart from its shimmering beauty) is the way everything coheres so well. Pieces written at different times, more than 550 years later than the Mass, by four composers whose styles are not usually that close to each other’s, let alone to Power’s, have come together with scarcely a join showing. Gavin Bryars, in particular, is a revelation. His work is so distinctive that I would have expected to recognise his contributions immediately without effort. In fact, his four settings of anonymous 12th-century Marian poems, three of which feature a wonderful solo part for a member of the trio, achieve that admirable submersion of self which makes this project so successful musically.
Barry Witherden, Gramophone
Trio Mediaeval is comprised of three women..., they sing their chosen repertoire, an intriguing blend of early music and new music, as if the words in addition to the notes have meaning fort them. … Although in no sense a reconstruction of a service, the four movements of Leonel Power’s gorgeous three-voice “Missa Alma redemptoris mater” are interspersed with the other works on the program, with the entire disc being concluded with the original plainchant that forms the basis for Power’s work. … It is a work of astounding beauty that is very well served here, however unlikely a performance by three solo female voices would have been.
John Story, Fanfare
Soir, dit-elle intersperses the four sections of a fifteenth-century mass by the English composer Leonel Power with new works written for Trio Mediaeval by Oleh Haravyy, Gavin Bryars, Andrew Smith and Ivan Moody. The effect of the program is spellbinding, as the Trio moves effortlessly back and forth across the span of 600 years without ever breaking the musical mood. All of the new music is exemplary, but the two pieces by Moody, “The Troparion of Kassiani” and “A Lion’s Sleep”, which set ninth- and tenth-century texts that give voice to the two Maries associated with Christ (His mother and Mary Magdalene), are especially wonderful.
Andrew Quint, The Absolute Sound
Da das hoch spannende Programm ... von den Interpretinnen ebenso intonationsrein und homogen wie farbenreich vorgetragen wird, kann diese Produktion aus dem Hause ECM als herausragende Entdeckung gelten – nicht nur vor dem Hintergrund der direkten Konkurrenz.
Marcus Stäbler, Fono Forum
Das Geheimnis des Trios ist die absolute perfekte Abstimmung der charakteristischen Stimmen, deren Timbre eins wird. Da stört nichts! Da ist alles rund! ... Das Trio Mediaeval hat somit die besten Voraussetzungen und das perfekte Rüstzeug, um sowohl alte Meister als auch Zeitgenossen lupenrein und weit jeder Kritik darzustellen. Wie gut das dann ist, das zeigt erneut die CD. Wieder ein Treffer, eine Platte des Monats.
Robert Strobl, Toccata
Was die zeitgenössischen Kompositionen auf der CD miteinander zu einem Ganzen verbindet und außerdem den klanglichen Ursprung ihrer Tonsprache verdeutlicht, sind die vier eingestreuten Sätze der Missa “Alma redemptoris mater” des Engländers Leonel Power, komponiert irgendwann um 1440. ... Durch die bestens korrespondierenden Frauenstimmen gewinnt die Messe eine helle Strahlkraft jenseits mönchischer Strenge. ... Diese hohe Kunst der Selbstbeschränkung in der Verbindung von Altem und Neuem gelingt selten so homogen, stimmig und musikalisch überzeugend wie auf Soir, dit-elle, der neuen CD des norwegischen Trio Mediaeval.
Sebastian Panel, WDR 3 Hörzeichen
The Trio Mediaeval made a powerful impact in 2001 with their debut album “Words of the Angel”, their highly distinctive vocal sound – a “Scandinavian” sound, as they define it – bringing new perspectives to the performance of sacred music.

“These three women have astonishingly beautiful voices,” Robert Levine wrote in American journal Stereophile, “with individual timbres that nonetheless mingle seamlessly... Trio Mediaeval sings with feeling, depth, and — dare I say it? — soul”. Such sentiments were echoed also throughout Europe. "A most impressive new group,” said Britain’s Early Music Review: “Their clear and unforced voices, with superb control of intonation and blend of tone, combine with an obvious musical intelligence, as evidenced by their ability to shape a musical line and give structure to a piece. Others have tried to reinterpret the medieval repertoire for soprano voices, but none as successfully as this young group."

The Norwegian-Swedish trio was formed in Oslo in 1997 and its musical direction confirmed by intensive study with The Hilliard Ensemble in Cambridge. Ex-Hilliard singer John Potter, currently leader of the Dowland Project, and producer of both the trio’s ECM discs, recalls that the Trio Mediaeval “already had that creative energy and an instinctive distinctive blend when they came to our annual summer school in 1998. This blossomed still further in subsequent visits over the next two years. Their repertoire also broadened during this period, adding a considerable amount of contemporary music to the medieval and Norwegian music that they performed with such élan.”

“Soir, dit-elle” reverses the ratio of old to new music found on the debut disc, though the transition from early to modern is so subtly addressed that the casual listener will more likely find him or herself in what Potter calls “a timeless present”: On “Words of the Angel”, the Trio sang anonymous laude, settings of devotional poems which may have dated from the 12th century. On the current disc, in his three compositions written for the Trio Mediaeval in 2002, Gavin Bryars uses the same texts and stays close to the melodic outline of the original laude. Interacting with the medieval paradigm, Bryars has said he finds himself in a context that is “exposed, so naked and unadorned… where I cannot hide behind, say, a skilfully orchestrated accompaniment – like a painter who has hitherto had the luxury of painting massive canvases with dense oils, being obliged to work in pen and ink, in black and white, on a simple piece of paper, like a Zen artist refusing the possibility of revision or correction”.

Bryars’ Laude provide one thread through “Soir, dit-elle”. Another is the mass of Leonel Power, who rivalled Dunstable as England’s great composer of religious music in the 15th century. The Power and Bryars pieces, interlaced on the album, have the effect of making the performances stand outside the flow of time, a feeling also emphasised in the new music here from Oleh Harkavyy, Ivan Moody and Andrew Smith - all of it written for the Trio Mediaeval, all of it inspired by medieval sources.

John Potter: “For the Ukrainian Oleh Harkavyy and Englishman Andrew Smith chant acts as a kind of essence from which to distil their pieces. The Kyrie, like Bryars’ laude, has its roots in ancient monophony but is entirely modern. Andrew Smith uses the Regina caeli chant as a point of departure for his polyphony. Common to all of these pieces are the Marian texts: each one calls on the Madonna to intercede on behalf of humanity, whether overtly (as in the new works), or almost subliminally (in the mass movements). Trio Mediaeval has been associated with the music of Ivan Moody for several years. The two pieces here refer to two different Maries: In A Lion’s Sleep the 10th century St Simeon of Metaphrastes has the mother of Christ linking theological consciousness with the crucifixion, the resurrection and the intense sorrow of a mother. In the Troparion (a Holy Week text) the 9th century nun and hymnographer Kassia speaks in the voice of the woman who anointed the feet of Christ, whom later tradition identified with Mary Magdalene. The poem traces the journey of the soul away from sin through repentance to salvation. The music takes its cue from the Byzantine chant melody for this text in current Greek Orthodox usage, in this way constantly alternating between the personal and the universal.“