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February 18 , 2004

America in Mediaeval Fever

Scandinavia’s Trio Mediaeval have comprehensively charmed the public and the critics on their first North American tour. Press coverage is vast and almost uniformly ecstatic, a major piece in the New York Times paving the way for rave reviews in publications from the Washington Post to Time Out..

“I think the group is breathtaking – arresting, vivid, calm but never peaceful with very moment ready to bring a surprise,” enthuses Greg Sandow in the Wall Street Journal. “You don’t need any background in classical music; you listen as you would read a book, or look at paintings. Medieval music in some ways is so old that it doesn’t sound old; the sounds it makes have dropped out of any history that’s with us now. You can hear that in the chords the women sing… They represent a road not taken, harmonies that later centuries decided not to use. That’s one reason why the music, as we listen to it now, doesn’t sound medieval; it could just as well be new.” And sometimes of course it is, as composers write for the Trio Mediaeval’s characteristic vocal blend – as Gavin Bryars, Oleh Harkavvy and Ivan Moody do on the Trio’s second album, “Soir, dit-elle”. The new disc is flying out of US record stores - it entered the Billboard Clasical Charts at no. 7 -, and the current wave of interest has also reactivated interest in the group’s debut “Words of the Angel”.

Meanwhile, the Oslo launch of “Soir, dit-elle” with a performance at the Margaretakyrkan was a major success, and the first European press echoes are also positive:

“Despite the music constantly leaping back and forth across a chasm of 550-plus years”, writes Martin Cullingford in Gramophone, “there is no feeling of great disjointedness and it is here that their contemporary approach reaps dividends. The result is a serene, unrestricted sound, and yet one that always feels imbued with a certain historical and contextual empathy and awareness, regardless of the genesis of the score.”