Sublime Sounds from the Middle Ages
One of the more intriguing releases of the year is this three-disc set inspired by the Knights Templar, a Christian military order that appeared after the First Crusade of 1096. Originally dedicated to safeguarding those making pilgrimages to the Holy Land, their order grew in size and influence during the next two centuries. Before being disbanded by a mistrustful Pope in 1307, they were known as much for their skill in combat as their religious devotion. Those twin impulses—the martial and the spiritual—are well represented by the music in this collection. Disc one is titled “Music for a Knight,” and presents a variety of tunes that vividly evoke the religious, social and emotional textures of the day, including selections from the “Carmina Burana” and songs by Hildegard von Bingen. Disc two, “Music of the Church,” consists entirely of Gregorian chant, which exerts a powerfully hypnotic spell through its monophonic structure and impassioned a cappella vocals. The final disc, “Music of the Mediterranean,” is a lively and varied mix of Middle Eastern songs and instrumentals of Jewish, Muslim and Christian origin. Collectively, this is the kind of music a Knight Templar might listen to for inspiration, contemplation, or just simple relaxation, and it remains just as accessible and vital to the modern listener. This handsomely produced Naxos box set makes a great entry point for anyone curious about the religious and secular music of that long-vanished era.
Was this review helpful to you?YESNO