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Hildegard Von Bingen: O Orzchis Ecclesia


Release Date: 08/30/2011 
Label:  Brilliant Classics   Catalog #: 94273  
Composer:  Hildegard of Bingen
Performer:  Barbara Zanichelli
Conductor:  Federico Bardazzi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble San FeliceSymphonia Harmoniae Caelestium Revelationum
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



HILDEGARD OF BINGEN Symphoniae Federico Bardazzi, dir; Ens San Felici; Barbara Zanichelli (s) BRILLIANT 94273 (58:15)


This program offers seven of Hildegard’s antiphons and responsories arranged as one nocturn of the Office of Matins. The antiphon that uses her invented vocabulary, “O orzchis Ecclesia,” gives the disc its title and serves as the invitatory with a psalm verse and doxology, followed by three antiphons with a psalm verse and three responsories preceded by a lesson drawn from her Read more style="font-style:italic">Liber divinorum operum . A collect, or prayer, concludes the service. Hildegard’s music is sung by Barbara Zanichelli, a soprano who shows great sympathy for this style of music. The psalms are sung by a small chorus, while a small ensemble (harp, vielle, portative organ) accompanies unobtrusively. A CD-ROM is included in the case to provide the texts and Italian translations. The program’s conception is neatly realized, dissuading me from suggesting that there are many preferable Hildegard discs sung without instrumental accompaniment. The recording was made in 2007 but I cannot find an earlier release.


“O orzchis Ecclesia” has been recorded unaccompanied at least three times, including Barbara Thornton’s superb version. The antiphons “O coruscans,” “O pulchre facies,” and “Nunc gaudeant” are also available unaccompanied. The responsories “O nobilissima viriditas,” “O vos imitatores,” and “O felix anima” have all been recorded unaccompanied as well. The singers, especially Zanichelli, project the music firmly and stylishly in a venue that surrounds the singing with warmth. So the attraction of this disc is the exceptional quality of the chanting style and the format of a nocturn. The use of Hildegard’s prose work to fashion Matins lessons is unsupported but interesting. This is worth hearing.


FANFARE: J. F. Weber


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Hildegard of Bingen's last work, Liber divinorum operum, is subdivided into ten visions, starting with a prologue and ending with an epilogue. Parts of this were divided into three letters for the service Notturno del Mattutino del Commune delle Vergine. On this disc the service has been recreated by soprano Barbara Zanichelli, Ensemble San Felice and Federico Bardazzi. Hildegard's music on disc has tended to be presented in recital form, rather divorced from its liturgical context. But she wrote her pieces in the context of the church's liturgy.

On this disc we get a whole set of Hildegard's music assembled into a coherent service, three psalms with their antiphons, followed by the three readings from Liber divinorum operum each followed by a responsorium with a final prayer.

Though the performers include a small choir of female voices, a gothic harp, vielle and portative organ, the performance style is in fact quite austere. It is thought that Hildegard may have used instruments in services even though frowned upon by the authorities. Here the instruments are used quite discreetly with the voices generally unaccompanied. The results are resolutely austere in texture, but seductive in their shapeliness and melodic outline.

Soprano Barbara Zanichelli has the majority of the work, with the chorus providing unassertive drones as well as singing the Psalm chants. She has an attractive, tightly focused voice with good flexibility. I am not quite sure that she makes enough of the words. After all, Hildegard's pieces are about the words and the music: the words relate to her visions and are profoundly important. There is a tendency to appreciate this music for its austere, haunting beauty and forget the startling nature of her vision.

The booklet talks about seeing the two sides of Hildegard. I don't think that any of the recordings issued, not even Gothic Voices' A feather on the breath of God, quite evokes Hildegard's indomitable personality and quite terrifying visions.

The CD booklet includes an extensive article, written in rather flowery language. There is also a CD-ROM which includes a PDF of the CD booklet plus a PDF of texts and translations. Unfortunately the translations are only into Italian, which seems short-sighted.

This disc makes a good introduction to Hildegard’s music if you are interested in her as a writer of liturgical pieces. The performances are firmly anchored into the sound of early plainchant. It is let down only by the fact that you need Italian to follow the translations of the texts.


-- Robert Hugill, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
O orzchis ecclesia by Hildegard of Bingen
Performer:  Barbara Zanichelli (Soprano)
Conductor:  Federico Bardazzi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble San Felice,  Symphonia Harmoniae Caelestium Revelationum
Period: Medieval 
Written: 12th Century; Germany 
2.
Venite, exultemus Domino by Hildegard of Bingen
Performer:  Barbara Zanichelli (Soprano)
Conductor:  Federico Bardazzi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble San Felice,  Symphonia Harmoniae Caelestium Revelationum
3.
O coruscans lux by Hildegard of Bingen
Performer:  Barbara Zanichelli (Soprano)
Conductor:  Federico Bardazzi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble San Felice,  Symphonia Harmoniae Caelestium Revelationum
Period: Medieval 
4.
In Domino confido by Hildegard of Bingen
Performer:  Barbara Zanichelli (Soprano)
Conductor:  Federico Bardazzi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble San Felice,  Symphonia Harmoniae Caelestium Revelationum
5.
O pulchrae facies by Hildegard of Bingen
Performer:  Barbara Zanichelli (Soprano)
Conductor:  Federico Bardazzi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble San Felice,  Symphonia Harmoniae Caelestium Revelationum
Period: Medieval 
Written: 12th Century; Germany 
6.
Beatus vir by Hildegard of Bingen
Performer:  Barbara Zanichelli (Soprano)
Conductor:  Federico Bardazzi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble San Felice,  Symphonia Harmoniae Caelestium Revelationum
7.
Nunc gaudiant materna by Hildegard of Bingen
Performer:  Barbara Zanichelli (Soprano)
Conductor:  Federico Bardazzi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble San Felice,  Symphonia Harmoniae Caelestium Revelationum
Period: Medieval 
Written: 12th Century; Germany 
8.
Fundamenta ejus in montibus sanctis by Hildegard of Bingen
Performer:  Barbara Zanichelli (Soprano)
Conductor:  Federico Bardazzi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble San Felice,  Symphonia Harmoniae Caelestium Revelationum
9.
Diffusa est gratia in labiis tuis by Hildegard of Bingen
Performer:  Barbara Zanichelli (Soprano)
Conductor:  Federico Bardazzi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble San Felice,  Symphonia Harmoniae Caelestium Revelationum
10.
Lectio I by Hildegard of Bingen
Performer:  Barbara Zanichelli (Soprano)
Conductor:  Federico Bardazzi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble San Felice,  Symphonia Harmoniae Caelestium Revelationum
Period: Medieval 
11.
O nobilissima viriditas by Hildegard of Bingen
Performer:  Barbara Zanichelli (Soprano)
Conductor:  Federico Bardazzi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble San Felice,  Symphonia Harmoniae Caelestium Revelationum
Period: Medieval 
Written: 12th Century; Germany 
12.
Lectio II by Hildegard of Bingen
Performer:  Barbara Zanichelli (Soprano)
Conductor:  Federico Bardazzi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble San Felice,  Symphonia Harmoniae Caelestium Revelationum
Period: Medieval 
13.
O vos imitatores by Hildegard of Bingen
Performer:  Barbara Zanichelli (Soprano)
Conductor:  Federico Bardazzi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble San Felice,  Symphonia Harmoniae Caelestium Revelationum
Period: Medieval 
Written: 12th Century; Germany 
14.
Lectio III by Hildegard of Bingen
Performer:  Barbara Zanichelli (Soprano)
Conductor:  Federico Bardazzi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble San Felice,  Symphonia Harmoniae Caelestium Revelationum
15.
O felix anima by Hildegard of Bingen
Performer:  Barbara Zanichelli (Soprano)
Conductor:  Federico Bardazzi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble San Felice,  Symphonia Harmoniae Caelestium Revelationum
Period: Medieval 
Written: 12th Century; Germany 
16.
Deus, qui beatam Hildegardem Virginem tuam by Hildegard of Bingen
Performer:  Barbara Zanichelli (Soprano)
Conductor:  Federico Bardazzi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble San Felice,  Symphonia Harmoniae Caelestium Revelationum

Sound Samples

O orzchis ecclesia - Psalm 94 ad invitatorium, "Venite, exultemus Domino"
O coruscans lux stellarum - Psalm 10, "In Domino confido"
O pulchrae facies - Psalm 1, "Beatus vir": O pulchrae facies - Psalm 1, "Beatus vir"
Nunc gaudeant materna - Psalm 86, "Fundamenta ejus in montibus sanctis"
Diffusa est gratia in labiis tuis
Libro divinorum operum: Benedictio I, Lectio I
Nobilissima vririditas
Libro divinorum operum: Benedictio II, Lectio II
O vos imitatores excelsae personae
Libro divinorum operum: Benedictio III, Lectio III
O Felix Anima 64
Deus, qui beatam Hildegardem Virginem tuam

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