The ensembles Trio Mediaeval and Liber unUsualis have a lot in common yet are quite individual in many respects. Audiences in North America and Europe have enjoyed their highly unique interpretations of medieval music. Both ensembles have made their mark in the past decade for their moving performances of medieval music specifically written for small ensembles.
A quick google search under medieval trio will bring up one of the more fascinating ensembles currently performing on the international scene. Trio Mediaeval, a group based in Norway, is made up of women’s voices that specialize in what they call “three distinct strands of repertoire”—French and English medieval polyphony, new music, and Norwegian medieval ballands and songs. For their first CD, Words of the Angel, released in 2001, they combined the first two strands by including a newly composed work alongside medieval repertoire of choice.
Based in Oslo, Norway, you might assume all of the ensemble’s members are Norwegian, but you’d only be two-thirds correct. Both Linn Andrea Fulsgeth and Torunn Ostrem Ossum were born in Norway while Anna Maria Friman is, in fact, Swedish.
For their second recording, Stella Maris, 2005, the trio was briefly joined by their mentor, tenor John Potter. The recording includes French and English polyphony and a new work by Korean composer Sungji Hong specifically written for the trio.
The members of Liber unUsualis have garnered a number of honors on both sides of the Atlantic. Known for their compelling and assured performances, the ensemble’s main focus is to explore music from middle ages and the early Renaissance. Their first CD, recorded in 2002, was solely devoted to Guillaume de Machaut and included works both written by and in tribute to him.
The members of Liber unUsualis include Melanie, Germond, soprano, Carolann Buff, mezzo-soprano, and William Hudson, tenor. Their first recording, produced by record label Passacaille, they are joined by guest tenor Jordan Sramek.
The ensemble’s second recording, entitled Flyleaves, explores some of the more delicate repertoire from medieval England. They cover a span of nearly three hundred years beginning with the 13th century, highlighting pieces that juxtapose Latin with early English.
Our new release of the week jumps us forward in time to the late German Baroque. A recent recording of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier receives an energized performance of the complete first book by Canadian harpsichordist Luc Beauséjour.
Here’s a video of Trio Mediaeval performing “Till, Till Tove,” a Norwegian Folksong:
*In 2009, Liber unUsualis changed its name to LIBER.