Rosa Lamoreaux, Luminous Spirit: Chants of Hildegarde of Bingen

Andy Battaglia

By Andy Battaglia

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

A revered mystic who, according to legend, began having visions of "luminous objects" as a young child, Hildegard von Bingen was a nun, writer, thinker, seer and scientist who lived in Germany during the 12th century. Her visions were well-known at the time — a time, it bears mention, when women were rarely paid much mind — as were her diverse works ranging from musical plays to studies of medicine. Here, American vocalist Rosa Lamoreaux wanders through 14 of Hildegard's chants, meditative musical pieces written for solo voice and (ideally) a big, moody Gothic church. They're less "chants" than mellifluous ribbons of operatic grandeur scaled down to slowly entrancing size. Tracks like "Today Has Opened" and "Charity Abounds" burst with light and faith, while the ominous melody of "O Eternal God" suggests something much darker. Strings, flutes and harpsichord help flesh out some of the pieces, but the spotlight shines most intensely on gorgeous, spell-binding vocals, which sound both devotional and curious.