This new release from ECM is a recording of a composite Mass assembled from works found in the 13th and 14th century Worcester Fragments and performed by Trio Mediaeval, a group of three women singers. We are used to hearing music written prior to the 17th century sung by men as proxy monks, but is is thought that nuns used essentially the same repertoire and adapted it to their higher voices—groups like Anonymous 4 on Harmonia Mundi and Musica Secreta on Linn have begun the project of making recordings available of this largely ignored musical genre. Trio Mediaeval provide useful explanatory liner notes which make clear the gulf that separates modern approaches to this music and its original intent, and provide a legitimation for their asking modern British composer Gavin Bryars to provide musical settings of the two sections of the Ordinary of the Mass absent from the original Worcester manuscripts. That the music flows seamlessly from mediaeval to modern is a testimony to the accomplishment of the performers and Bryars' respect for his ancient models. Scholarship aside, this is an exquisitely beautiful, calm, and mellifluous recording.
Worcester Ladymass & Gavin Bryars