Stella Maris

Trio Mediaeval

Featured Artists Recorded

February 2005, Propstei St. Gerold

Original Release Date


  • 1Flos regalis virginalis
    (Anonymus, Traditional)
  • 2O Maria, stella maris
    (Anonymus, Traditional)
  • 3Quem trina polluit
    (Anonymus, Traditional)
  • 4Dou way Robyn / Sancta Mater
    (Anonymus, Traditional)
  • 5Veni creator spiritus
    (Anonymus, Traditional)
  • 6Dum sigillum
    (Perotinus, Traditional)
  • 7Beata viscera
    (Perotinus, Traditional)
  • Missa Lumen de lumine for three voices
    (Sungji Hong, Traditional)
  • 8Kyrie04:03
  • 9Gloria06:43
  • 10Credo05:48
  • 11Sanctus04:06
  • 12Agnus Dei05:52
BBC Music Magazine, Choral & Song Choice
The word „mellifluous“ might almost have been coined to describe the distinctively pure, cool sound of Trio Mediaeval’s three female voices. It has an alluring quality all its own, which makes everything they sing – from the earliest polyphony to newly composed pieces which, to some extent, inhabit the same sound-world – wonderfully rewarding to listen to.
The mediaeval contribution here consists of a sequence of 12th- and 13th-century settings, often in delightfully lilting triple time, which neatly demonstrate the contrast between the celebrated sweetness of the predominantly chordal English style and the more dissonant and contrapuntal Parisian manner of such pieces as Perotin’s “Dum sigillum”. These are complemented by Sungji Hong’s “Missa Lumen de lumine”, a virtuoso exploration of the technical and sonorous possibilities of three high voices.
Elizabeth Roche, Daily Telegraph
The Korean composer Sungji Hong wrote her Missa Lumen de Lumine especially for the Trio in 2002, and it fits them perfectly. It’s a parody in the original, strict, non-pejorative sense: elements of medieval style are deftly woven together with modern grammar and gestures to produce a work of iridescent freshness.
Barry Witherden, BBC Music Magazine
To hear the haunting voices of Trio Mediaeval is to be transported to a quiet place, where everything modern drops away and you are left with a stillness punctuated only by the sweetly ethereal rhythms of words written down in places long forgotten. … Their vocal talent is so moving that it is hard to imagine that the words they are calling forth were written during a time when women weren’t even allowed to sing in church.
Charles Devilbiss, Washington Examiner
Bis vor wenigen Jahren waren Interpretationen mittelalterlicher geistlicher Gesänge noch eine reine Männerdomäne. Welch betörend neue Farben, welch schwebende Klanglichkeit ein Frauenensemble in die ferne Welt der Organa und Conductus tragen kann, beweist das norwegisch-schwedische Trio Mediaeval. ... Wunderbar der Atem, den die drei Sängerinnen über die kunstvoll fortschreitenden Quart- und Quintketten legen, beeindruckend die Leuchtkraft ihrer Stimmen, das Gespür für die in sich ruhende Architektur dieser Werke. Ein emotional offeneres Feld erschließt sich in der „Missa Lumen de Lumine“, die das Ensemble bei der koreanischen Komponistin Sungji Hong in Auftrag gegeben hat: ein fast unmerklich aus der mittelalterlichen Klangwelt sich emanzipierendes Werk, dessen klangliche Schärfungen und Verdichtungen aufs Subtilste ausgehorcht erscheinen.
Christoph Ballmer, Neue Zürcher Zeitung
Die Norwegerinnen konzentrieren sich auf ein Repertoire aus Mittelalter und Renaissance einerseits und zeitgenössischen Werken andererseits. Dass das Konzept auch auf der neuen CD so überzeugend aufgeht, liegt einerseits an der schlüssigen Programmzusammenstellung, die Werke aus dem 13. Jahrhundert mit der kunstvoll archaisierenden Klangsprache von Sungji Hongs „Missa Lumen de Lumine“ kombiniert. Und andererseits an der vorzüglichen Ensemblekultur des Trio Mediaeval, das den Hörer hier mit einer lupenreinen Darbietung betört.
Marcus Stäbler, Fono Forum
The Trio Mediaeval’s first two ECM discs, Words of the Angel (recorded 1999) and Soir, dit-elle (recorded 2003), received near-unanimous praise from the world’s press, and their international concert appearances have also made a powerful impact. “The group is breathtaking,” wrote Greg Sandow in the Wall Street Journal. “Arresting, vivid, calm but never peaceful, with every moment ready to bring a surprise.” In a major profile piece in The New York Times, James R. Oestreich declared the Scandinavian vocal trio the legitimate successors to the highly-popular Anonymous 4. Germany’s FonoForum meanwhile hailed Soir, dit-elle as an “outstanding discovery” and the Daily Telegraph commented that “the Trio’s knack of devising uniquely imaginative and stimulating programmes makes their recordings irresistible”.

Eight years after the group’s foundation, the combining of medieval pieces and compositions written exclusively for the three singers continues to provide a central repertoire policy. While Words of the Angel situated Ivan Moody’s title piece in the neighbourhood of the Messe de Tournai and 14th century polyphony, Soir, dit-elle interspersed pieces by Moody, Gavin Bryars, Andrew Smith and Oleh Harkavyy with Leonel Power’s 15th century Missa “Alma redemptoris mater”.

Stella Maris again both juxtaposes and seamlessly blends the old and the new. Chants from the 13th century, most of them from English and French Conductus traditions, are complemented by a new sacred composition commissioned by the Trio. Prior to her “Missa Lumen de Lumine”, Korean-born Sungji Hong had already written several pieces for Anna Maria Friman, whom she had met while studying at York University. Hong’s “Missa” is a contemporary and explorative setting of the Mass Ordinary which displays a keen awareness of the Trio’s distinctive vocal style. “We encountered quite a few rhythmic challenges at first,” Anna Maria Friman recalls, “but we felt at once that this piece is really written for our voices.”

“We have an enormous trust and respect for each other, both musically and personally”, says Friman. ”We think that every concert should bring something special and unrepeatable. Also, soundwise, I think we were very lucky to find a natural blend soon after we started the group in 1997. We have of course grown a lot together since then, but we have always been using our voices in a way that is comfortable for us, never trying to create a certain sound, but to concentrate on the music, and take it from there.”

The Trio welcome the creative challenges that medieval repertoire implies for them. “We can’t possibly know what these pieces sounded like at the time, especially since we are singing music which, with very few exceptions, used to be reserved for men. Our aim is to recover from the past what is of relevance for our performances today. We feel we can be free to use the lack of evidence as a creative opportunity.” In approaching medieval music in a contemporary way, the relinquishing of historically informed performance practice becomes a question of artistic integrity. Creativity and irresponsibility are not synonyms in the Trio’s world. Friman: “Of course we look for as much evidence and information as possible when preparing the music. We never predetermine to do things a certain way, and do not lock doors on any possibility.” Trio Mediaeval today collaborates with a steadily growing network of experts who offer scholarship and advice on questions concerning musicology, the Latin language and historical context.

Future plans for the Trio include first performances of a quintet by Norwegian jazz saxophonist and composer Trygve Seim (his ECM recordings include Different Rivers and Sangam) who will appear with the singers alongside accordionist Frode Haltli (see the New Series recital disc Looking on Darkness). Says Anna Maria Friman: “We are as well planning to focus, in the upcoming season, on Norwegian music, folk music and medieval ballads, all aspects of our repertoire that we have been working on since the beginning.”