Anonymous 4, Hildegard von Bingen: 11,000 Virgins – Chants for the Feast of St. Ursula

John Schaefer

By John Schaefer

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Mystic music for mighty minds

Everyone's favorite 12th-century German abbess, mystic, and composer, Hildegard of Bingen was the surprise "it" composer of the late 20th century. Her florid, ecstatic melodies, often spun over a vocal or instrumental drone, swept through the Early Music community and into the musical mainstream. Contemporary composers like Aaron Kernis, Richard Einhorn and many others wrote works based on or inspired by her songs; an album of electropop arrangements of Hildegard's music sold well; she was even a cool name to drop on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Anonymous 4, the undisputed queens of Early Music in the States, have issued two CDs of Hildegard's music. This one, the first, includes some of her greatest hits. Full of exotic melisma, visionary imagery, and proto-feminist leanings, Hildegard anticipated the world music, New Age, and women's movements 800 years ago.